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Pepper spray assault at gay event

A discussion event in Oulu on the situation of gay asylum seekers was the target of a pepper spray attack that led one speaker to be hospitalised on Thursday evening. Police say the motive for the attack was political and say they know the identity of the perpetrator, who fled the scene immediately after the incident.

Poliisit haastattelevat iskun jälkeen paikallaolleita
Around 30 participants were evacuated from the venue after the attack. Image: Tommi Forsman / Yle

Oulu city councillor Juha Tapio said the pepper spray assault was an attack against the organisers of North Pride, a sexual diversity festival that runs through Sunday.

"It was no doubt a strategic attack against us as we oppose the persecution of gay, bi and transgender people. We’re against far-right extremists and racists," he said, adding that security would need to be stepped up in the coming days.

According to organiser Sirpa Dorochenko, the attack reflected why events like North Pride are so important.  

"I guess this is reality," she said.

The perpetrator fled the scene immediately after the attack.

Police have made progress in their investigations into the attack.  They say the motive was political aimed at disrupting the discussion event which focused on the threat posed by the extreme right. Investigators added the perpetrator had been present throughout the meeting and had been filmed on CCTV.

The injured speaker has now left hospital.

Jani Toivola and Silvia Modig, both openly gay members of Parliament, are the official patrons of North Pride, organised by the Oulu chapter of sexual rights group Seta.

Eyes focused on Saturday's Tampere Pride

Eyes are also focused on Saturday's pride march in the city of Tampere.

Organisers have discussed security arrangements with the local police. Inspector  Marko Luosa of the Tampere police told Yle the march was a constitutional right and would be protected. He added police had adequate resources at their disposal to deal with any eventuality.

 

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