‘Tolerance Truck’ Knocks at the Gates of Vilnius Again

A Delegation of the European Commission to Lithuania has asked for permission from the Vilnius City Municipality to organise an event that was banned last year—the appearance of the ‘tolerance truck’ at the Town Hall Square. Lithuanian gays are also getting ready for participation in the campaign. Contrary to last year, however, there is no intention of raising the rainbow-coloured flag. The tolerance-promotion truck which is travelling through EU countries plans to show up in Vilnius on 20 August.
On Monday, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Lithuania, Kęstutis Sadauskas, consulted with the Mayor of Vilnius, Juozas Imbrasas, regarding permission to organise the campaign at the Town Hall Square.
Not Just a Gay Truck
According to organisers of the event, the goal of the campaign is to inform the public that discrimination at work is banned in the EU on all grounds, including ethnicity, religion, race, age, sex and sexual orientation.
“It is important to understand that this truck does not only advocate gay rights. We have no intention of singling out one group, as all of them are entitled to equal rights,“ Mr Sadauskas explained to DELFI on Monday.
According to him, the ‘tolerance truck’ made a successful tour through all European countries last year, with the exception of Lithuania.
Mr Imbrasas: I Will not Condone Gay Promotion
Vilnius authorities have not yet decided whether to allow the ‘tolerance truck’ to enter the city this year.
“While I am Mayor, I will not allow gay promotion in the city,“ Mr Imbrasas told DELFI after the meeting.
He is convinced that it will be difficult to ensure public order after the public appearance of homosexuals, which may incite a riot.
The Mayor suggested that the organisers of the event look for another venue, perhaps a closed place to hold the event.
Will not Raise the Flag
Vladimiras Simonko, the President of the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL), has assured DELFI that gays are planning to attend the tolerance event this year, but in a more modest manner than last year.
“We only planned to use the truck to distribute our publications,“ Mr Simonko said. “We are definitely not going to raise the flag: the time is still to come for those six colours to become part of the face of the city and its decoration. I don‘t see it happening yet.”
DELFI reminds us that the Vilnius City Municipality did not allow the ‘tolerance truck’ to enter the city last spring.
The 2007 Rainbow Day event, at which gays planned to raise a huge rainbow-coloured flag in the centre of the capital, was also banned, purportedly for fear of possible attacks by individuals with a hostile attitude towards the event and homosexuals.
On that occasion, the decision of Vilnius authorities was condemned by the human rights defence organisation Amnesty International and the European Commission.
Evaldas Utyra, www.DELFI.lt
21 July 2008, 14:51