Catholic Priest from Lithuania Faces Trial over Homophobic Comments Online

The catholic priest from Kaunas (Lithuania) faces criminal charges for homophobic comments online. After reading an online article about a demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy in Vilnius, organized by the local LGBT* community in August, 2013 with the view of protesting against the draconian ‘anti-gay’ legislation in Russia, the priest wrote: “The ones with the ripped assholes should be smacked.” The complaint to the public prosecutor was submitted by the National LGBT* Rights Organization.

The priest denies the allegations regarding the incitement to hatred and violence and claims that his comment was referring not to the LGBT* community, but to the homophobic Russian politicians. “I wrote in the comment “should be smacked” very quickly, even with mistakes, because I do not like the Russian politicians, they violate human rights”, claimed the priest. “The comment was directed against the Russian policies on human rights. It is not about the Russian people, but about the violation of human rights. In my opinion, Russian politicians are “ripped asses”, because they violate human rights. […] I was aiming at drawing attention to the human rights violations in Russia,” further elaborated the priest.

The Inspector of the Journalist Ethics has concluded that the comment in question represents a call for discriminatory actions against a group based on their sexual orientation, incites violence and physical actions. The Inspector also noted that the author of the comment sought to ostracize and insult a group of people on grounds of their sexual orientation. The public prosecutor is of a similar position. “While writing a comment against homosexual people, the person in question was well aware of the context and had a direct intent, i.e. to express publicly his negative feelings against a vulnerable social group”, concluded the prosecutor.

The Lithuanian Catholic Church has not commented on the case.
The case is now being heard before the Supreme Court of Lithuania, i.e. the final instance of appeal. The final decision should be delivered by March 1st, 2016. According to the Article 170 of the Lithuanian Criminal Code, incitement to hatred or violence on grounds of sexual orientation is punishable up to two years in prison.

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