6 Sep 2009

Lithuania's Section 28

The Parliamentary plenary sittings in Lithuania will start from 10th of September and the new amendments to criminalize "propagation of homosexual relations" will be put on vote.

The amendments are:

Amendment to the Penal Code (registered under number XIP-668(2))

Inclusion of the new Article 310¹ . Promotion of homosexual relations in the public places
1. A person promoting homosexual relations in public places is committing a

criminal offence which is punishable with public works or fine or arrest.
2. Legal person is also responsible for this criminal offence.

Amendment to Administrative Code (registered under number XIP-667(2)

Inclusion of the new 214³º article
Article 214³º. Promotion of homosexual relations or financing of promotion in public places.
Promotion of homosexual relations or financing of promotion in public places is to be fined by fine from one to five thousand litas.

These amendments were under consideration at the Committee on Legal Affairs who were accepting suggestions for further amendments until August 23. LGBT Activists, MEPS, the European Parliament LGBT Inter-group, LGBT Organisations all wrote expressing their concerns to the chair of the Committee Mr. Stasys Sedbaras sending copies to the Lithuanian national equality body - Ombudsperson for Equal Opportunities Ms Ausrine Burneikiene. She has a duty and full powers to protect from sexual orientation discrimination at the national level.

Previously in June 2009 when the Lithuanian parliament first adopted the amended Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information., it introduced a law similar to section 28 outlawing “propaganda of homosexuality and bisexuality” because of the detrimental effects on minors. Information on homosexuality and bisexuality would also be banned from schools and any other places where it can be accessed by youth.

This was despite campaigning by MEP’s, the European Parliament LGBT Intergroup, Ilga-Europe, IGLYO (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation), Lithuanian Gay League, other organisations and a veto on the law on 26 June 2009,by Valdas Adamkus, the former President of the Republic of Lithuania. On, 14 July, the Lithuanian Parliament once more adopted the Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information which means that President Adamkus’ veto was rejected.

In an interview, to the newspaper Verslo žinios, current President Dalia Grybauskaitė commented that “In my opinion, this law contains homophobic provisions. There cannot be any ‘higher’ reason which would aim to overshadow fundamental human rights. I promise that I will never sign any law which will contradict fundamental human rights.” Despite the fact she criticised this law and said she will never sign a law which breached fundamental human rights, she is obliged by the country’s constitution to sign this law. (Source: www.delfi.lt)

During the campaign, Michael Cashman, MEP said "It is my duty as an elected member of the European Parliament to act strongly against grave attempts to diminish human rights of EU citizens". Cashman, who is President of the Intergroup continued “This new law is a spit in the face of the European values. To limit freedom of expression based on homophobia is a clear breach of EU’s fundamental rights and principles.”
The campaign continues. Lithuania intends to host Baltic Pride in Vilnius from May 7 - 9, 2010.
The photograph is of delegates to the Ilga-Europe Conference in Vilnius 2007 standing outside the hotel facing up to anti-gay protesters. UNISON delegates had brought their TUC flag with them.

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