Russian Style “Anti-Gay Propaganda” Law temporarily removed from the Lithuanian Parliament’s agenda

On November 12, 2015 the notorious “anti-gay propaganda” bill was removed from the Lithuanian Parliament’s agenda for the time being. 65 members of the Lithuanian Parliament voted for the proposition to remove the consideration of the draft amendment to the Code of Administrative Violations No. XIP-4490(3), which seeks to introduce administrative liability for any public denigration of the “constitutional family values” from the Parliament’s today’s agenda, 10 voted against, 25 abstained. In essence this means that the bill can reappear on the agenda at any time.

The proposed amendment, intention of which does not differ from so-called “homosexual propaganda” law in Russia, was first put to vote in March, 2014. Back then the bill mysteriously disappeared from the Parliament’s agenda one day before the final voting due to the pressure by the international community.

According to the proposal, such actions as carrying out public speeches, demonstrating goods, posters, slogans and audio-visual materials, as well as organizing public events such as Baltic Pride March for Equality would result in an administrative fine ranging from EUR 300 to EUR 900 and in case of repeated violation – from EUR 900 to EUR 1800. Due to its unlimited scope, this legislative motion is extremely dangerous for the LGBT* movement in Lithuania.

The bill was proposed by MP Petras Gražulis. The MP stated that the rationale for the amendment had arisen from the “current weaknesses of the Lithuanian legal system, when promotion of the harmonious, traditional family values is often estimated as unfounded and illegal discrimination against sexual minorities for their sexual orientation”. According to the proponent of the amendment, “the faulty practice appears when the fight against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is being used as a shield. As a consequence, traditional family values are being discriminated, which are appreciated by the people, who value heterosexual sexual relations”.

“Dear colleagues, for some reason it follows that Mr. Gražulis keeps proposing initiatives that in the end turn out to be favorable to sexual minorities. The Constitutional Court has clarified that under the current definition of family in our Constitution, family can be anybody living together. If we are going to protect such values in supporting the amendment to the Code of Administrative Violations, then we are going to support Mr. Gražulis‘ proposition to defend the Constitutional Court’s interpretation that anyone can create a family. I believe that Mr. Gražulis should finally think about why he keeps proposing amendments that are particularly useful to sexual minorities, and, specifically, Vladimir Simonko,”  declared the leader of the Opposition of the Seimas Andrius Kubilius during the plenary hearing.

As stated by the international and local human rights experts, this law would restrict the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly enshrined in Articles Nos. 9 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Articles Nos. 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). The law would be discriminatory against LGBT* individuals, therefore in breach of Lithuania’s obligation to prohibit discrimination as enshrined in Article No. 2 of ICCPR, Article No. 14 of ECHR and Article No. 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as infringing upon the right to freedom to receive information on LGBTI rights and other issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The draft amendment to the Code of Administrative Violations No. XIP-4490(3), which seeks to introduce administrative liability for any public denigration of the “constitutional family values” was condemned by the international LGBTI organization “ILGA-Europe”, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI rights, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Nils Muižnieks and international LGBTIQ youth and student organisation IGLYO.

The national LGBT* rights organization LGL expresses its deep concern over the legislative initiatives aiming at limiting the fundamental rights of LGBT* individuals in Lithuania. The association LGL hopes that discriminatory legislative initiatives will be prevented in the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania and the rights of the citizens of Lithuania will be respected without any discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Read more about all homophobic and transphobic initiatives to be considered at the autumn session of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania.