Interior minister: Man who attacked gay pastor can be deported

Lauri Läänemets.
Lauri Läänemets. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Estonia can deport a Russian citizen who attacked a gay Finnish pastor at the weekend, Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said on Monday.

"This was an isolated incident to which the police reacted swiftly, and a procedure is underway for a serious breach of public order. This is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. The man is also under investigation for displaying prohibited insignia [supporting Russia's war in Ukraine - ed] from last year. The police are also reviewing the grounds for the man's stay in Estonia," Läänemets wrote on social media.

"We will not allow provocations in the interests of Russia in our country, and the Estonian state will act decisively in any such case," he added.

The minister also rebuked people in positions of influence using minority rights to inflame public opinion.

"But this shocking attack is a reminder: words have consequences. When opinion leaders – be they politicians or religious leaders – systematically belittle the rights and freedoms of a minority in their public speeches, sooner or later such thoughtless or, on the contrary, very well-thought-out opposing language can become a crime at the hands of some radicalized fanatics," said Läänemets.

LGBT+ rights are currently making headlines in Estonia as the government is planning to change the law to allow same-sex marriage. Commentators are split on the issue.

On Sunday, NGO Association of Gay Christians (MTÜ Geikristlaste Kogu) wrote on social media that a man assaulted a Finnish pastor who attended their Baltic Pride event, causing injuries and for the man to be hospitalized.

Anu Villman, press representative for the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), told Delfi that the Alarm Center received a call at 2:47 p.m. on Sunday to report that a 25-year-old man attacked and injured a 30-year-old man.

Villmann said that a 49-year-old woman and another 30-year-old man were also injured trying to protect the victim. The ambulances took all three to the hospital.

"The police have detained the 25-year-old suspect and launched a criminal investigation," the PPA spokesperson said.


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

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