CC: Ombudsperson for Equal Opportunities Ms. Ausrine Burneikiene
Board Chair of the Lithuanian Gay League Mr. Vladimir Simonko
I am writing this letter from Tbilisi, Georgia. My name is Paata Sabelashvili and I am chairperson of Inclusive Foundation, an only NGO that advocates rights and integration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. Our organization has expressed its concern over recently adopted law on protection of minors from detrimental effect of public information. We think that it was a huge step backward from what we call democracy and human rights. Today we found new proposed amendments which your Committee is considering for introduction in September sessions.
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)
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.
We consider these amendments to be discriminatory and racist!
Lithuania is a political ally for Georgia and your country has rendered enormous political support to Georgia in difficult times. We have hosted hundreds of Lithuanian students, artists, volunteers and talked about independence, freedom, national security, democracy and human rights. We have jointly visited new settlements of persons displaced from conflict zone, planted trees in kindergarten with green activists and organized joint concert actions. This is because we wanted to be there when our country needed us along with other citizen. It was important to be out and visible while doing this.
I would never have imagined back than that this reality which our friends, sisters and brothers are facing in Lithuania would ever become a reality in such a short period of time (if at all). Our state is closely observing political processes in Lithuania and sees the example of how EU member country treats its gay and lesbian citizen. Lithuanian parliament members are involved in number of cooperation and exchange projects with their Georgian counterparts. We have heard comments from some extreme right politicians about Lithuanian practice of prohibiting homo discourse. Therefore we perceive these amendments as directly related not only to lesbians and gays in Lithuania but effectively in many other countries with the same historic legacy.
Dear Chairman, we urge you to do everything in your power to prevent these racist amendments from passing through. We need to tell our co-nationals on what happened with us in 20th century, what did Stalin or Hitler do to us. This is important to inform everyone on what happen so that this never happens again! Taking away this chance to speak out for our rights, depriving us right to active citizenship is just as bad as to ignore or even approve what happened in the past. Unfortunately, history is not an irreversible chain of progressive changes. It can be reversed if we loosen our attention, if we let go even small things. These amendments are not a small thing. They are based on ignorance, prejudice and hate of one but important part of society. And while talking about these issues we do not talk about issues per se but about lives of real people, our sisters and brothers, perhaps mothers, fathers or children.
We hope that these amendments will not even be heard by parliamentary session, we hope that they will be rejected and the recently adopted law repealed.