Lithuania Postpones Vote on Anti-Gay Amendment
Washington, D.C. - Human Rights First welcomes news that the Lithuanian parliament removed consideration of a proposed anti-LGBT amendment from today's agenda, and urged the U.S. government to press Lithuanian lawmakers to defeat the bill once and for all. The parliament was poised to vote on the proposed amendment to Lithuania's Code of Administrative Violations, which would introduce administrative liability for public denigration of "constitutional family values." The proposed amendment is one example of similar legislations being put forward throughout the region in an attempt to emulate Russia's discriminatory propaganda law. The organization notes that it continues to express concern over the continuing threat the legislation still poses.
"While the tabling of this amendment is a welcomed respite for LGBT Lithuanians, the proposed amendment will remain a threat to the protection of the human rights of Lithuania's LGBT community until it is officially defeated," said Human Rights First's Shawn Gaylord. "The introduction of this amendment and other similar bills throughout Eastern Europe is an alarming trend that contributes to increased violence and discrimination. We urge the Obama Administration to publicly condemn this legislation and to press the Lithuanian government to ensure that the amendment is not reintroduced."
The amendment to the Code of Administrative Violations No. XIP-4490(3) would introduce fines for any public display that defies traditional family values. This would include carrying out public speeches, demonstrating goods, posters, slogans and audio-visual materials, as well as organizing public events that run counter to definitions of the traditional family as laid out in the Lithuanian Constitution. Although presently tabled, the amendment can be reintroduced later in this parliamentary session.
Next June the Lithuanian LGBT community plans to celebrate Baltic Pride under the official slogan, "We are people, not propaganda."
"Despite the fact that the bill was removed from the Parliament's agenda this morning, it can be submitted for the final voting at any time," said Tomas V. Raskevičius, Policy Coordinator of the Lithuanian Gay League. "This continuous threat serves a persistent reminder that LGBT human rights remain a tool for political manipulation and blackmail. As human rights defenders, sometimes we feel hopeless that even the basic rights for LGBT people are being questioned."
If passed, the amendment would have provided a punitive mechanism for a previously adopted bill similar to the infamous Russian law banning propaganda of nontraditional sexual orientation. As of now, the Lithuanian law lacks a disciplinary instrument.
Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government work to prevent the spread of Russian-style propaganda laws in the surrounding region. Human Rights First’s blueprint, “How to Stop Russia from Exporting Homophobia” details how Russia’s homophobic laws and policies have spread throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and outlines key steps that the U.S. government can take to stop the spread of laws and policies that infringe on the human rights of the LGBT community.
For more information or to speak with Gaylord, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-845-5269.