Embarrassing decision of the Rakvere City Council – On Festheart’s case

At the beginning of the last year, Rakvere City Council decided not to support the LGBTI film festival Festheart organized by MTÜ Sevenbow. In this January, the city gave an embarrassing repetitive performance. For once again they cut down the financial support of the festival.

Sevenbow is a NGO, focused on organizing cultural events and led by Keio Soomelt and Teet Kase, the designer of the world famous Rakvere Christmas tree. Estonian Human Rights Centre helps sevenbow to go to the court again and for that we need your donations.

According to the order of Rakvere City Council, NGO Sevenbow applied for the financial support to organize the Festheart film festival. The Cultural Commission evaluated all the applications and found that their application qualified for the support. However, the City Council decided to lower the support by 80% in comparison to the decision of the Cultural Commission. All other supports were confirmed according to the existing order and the proposition of the Cultural Commission. Surprising? Clearly the decision makers in Rakvere have turned to homophobic and bullying path for the seconf year in a row, creating a worrying situation where their decision making process is questionable and does not take into count all the community members’ interests.

Does Rakvere aim for the title of a bully-capital?

Last year we together with NGO Sevenbow and law bureau Hedman Partners sued Rakvere City Council for ignoring the Estonian Constitution, practices of rules of law and rules imposed by the City Council itself in the Festheart case. The court is still processing the decision of last year but we have once again decided to take on the legal process together with NGO Sevenbow and Hedman Partners.

‘Politicians are again intervening in cultural financing according to their biases and in doing so copy our authoritarian Eastern neighbour,’ told Keio Soomelt, the representative of NGO Sevenbow.

‘For Estonian Human Rights Centre, the case is not only important in the context of this concrete film festival. The problem lies in the fact that the executive power should be dividing the support according to what is good for local culture life, not according to personal biases both on state and local level ,’ commented Kari Käsper, the Executive director of the Estonian Human Rights Centre. ‘Today they try to censore a film festival that is focusing on one minority, tomorrow it can be another event for another minority.’