It wasn’t a country high on my priorities of ones I would like to visit, but with the news that its Parliament is voting next week on legislation to impose fines on those who “promote homosexuality“, Lithuania has definitely gone down the list.
Last month, an amendement to the Lithuanian Administrative Code which states that
public promotion of homosexual relations is to be punished by a fine from 2,000 to 10,000 litas [£480 to £2,400]
was introduced to the Parliament. The vote on this at second reading will take place on December 16th.
concerned that the vague formulation of the new Article 214 would punish almost any public expression or portrayal of, or information about, homosexuality. These actions include, but are not limited to, campaigning on human rights issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, providing sexual health information to LGBT people or organizing gay film festivals and organizing and/or attending Pride events.
The promoter of this bill, MP Petras Gražulis – already well known for his homophobic views and strong opposition to the Baltic Pride march held on 8 May in Vilnius – has explicitly stated that one of the important aims of such amendment is to prevent events like the Baltic Pride from being held in Lithuania in the future.
Lituania held its first Pride march earlier in this year, which politicians tried to ban, but was permitted by a court at a very late stage. Five hundred gay rights campaigners braved a 1,000-strong crowd who hurled missiles and homophobic abuse at them.
I am a member of the Belfast Pride committee and we have had many protests over the years – but rarely, if ever, have we suffered such abuses.
I hope that this blatant discriminatory law will be voted down in the Lithuanian Parliament. If it is not, then there will be a major problem for LGBT rights in the country. Many of us will have to highlight it even further.