A bill designed to restrict freedom of expression and freedom of assembly has made an unwelcome reappearance on Lithuania’s parliamentary agenda.
ILGA-Europe was shocked to learn that an amendment to the country’s administrative code which punishes ‘public denigration of constitutional moral values’ will be voted on this Thursday (12 November 2015).
Bill XIP 4490(3) would impose fines on anyone found to be publicly disparaging constitutional values, family values or organising events that could offend public morality. Inclusive events such as Pride marches or similar equality festivals could be targeted by this provision, with the potential fine increasing for repeated violations.
Already back in 2013, legal experts from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission clearly stated that statutory provisions prohibiting so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’ are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and international human rights standards.
“ILGA-Europe calls on Lithuania’s elected representatives not to retreat to a place of fear and exclusion. Their politicians need to uphold the human rights laws they have promised to defend, in particular their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Time has passed since this bill was first introduced, giving members of parliament time to reflect on the serious negative impact this could have on LGBTI people in Lithuania. The bill has been abandoned before and should be abandoned again.” said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis.
ILGA-Europe strongly urge Lithuania’s parliament to protect the rights of their LGBTI citizens and reject this amendment on Thursday. The bill put forward by Petras Gražulis MP purports to protect family values but instead bears all the infamous hallmarks of an ‘anti-propaganda’ law.
The introduction of similar legislation was initially discussed in September 2013. In 2014, this bill was debated and a final vote was scheduled for 13 March. However, the bill then vanished from the parliament’s agenda, only to reappear again at very short notice this morning.
“The absence of this law in the intervening time period has done nothing to weaken the place of heterosexual families in society. However, its introduction would most certainly harm the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI people, their families and individuals who work to support them. It would also signify a breach of human rights that Lithuania, as a European country, has committed to.” concluded Evelyne Paradis.