Mayor of Vilnius J. Imbrasas says he is not ready to support gays yet

As reported by DEFLI.ee based on Eesti Ekspress information, a group of mayors joined the address, in which the support for the sexual minorities’ right to hold meetings and self-expression was expressed. As many as fifteen cities signed the address, including the mayors of Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Barcelona.
J. Imbrasas said he had heard nothing about such an address and that he was not going to join it. “I am not ready for such things yet,” Vilnius head said to DELFI on Thursday upon his return from Cannes.
Having asked whether all the undersigned were mayors of capital cities, and having heard a negative answer, Mr Imbrasas added that in that case the address was not very important.
The Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar has not joined his colleagues either. He has not given a negative answer, yet forwarded the address to one of the commissions of the city council asking the commission to formulate a stance and to draw up specific proposals.
Vilnius is often called a homophobic city hostile to sexual minorities.
Nevertheless, Lithuanian gays do not abandon their idea to hold public events in the country. They are planning to start holding the Baltic Pride events next year together with their like-minded friends from Latvia and Estonia – similar events are held in many countries around the world. According to the Lithuanian Gay League Chairman Vladimiras Simonko, the first Baltic Pride should take place in Riga, because, as he said, for the time being such events cannot be held in Vilnius.
Furthermore, plans are to take part in the European Pride this year, which will be held in Stockholm. “We hope that the Baltic States will be provided with a separate platform, and we are going to open our flag during the event. There, we will represent Lithuania rather than the Mayor of Vilnius,” Mr Simonko said to DELFI.
Last spring, Vilnius authorities banned the planned visit of the truck dedicated to fight discrimination. The Lithuanian capital was included in the route of the journey through the Baltics during the celebration of the Year of Equal Opportunities.
It was said that the Rainbow Days 2007 event to be held by gays was banned due to security reasons, fearing the possible attacks by those against the event and homosexuals. For that reason, the aforementioned truck did not visit Vilnius, and the huge rainbow flag was not opened.
The decision was criticised by Amnesty International and by the European Commission.
Drivers refused to drive trolleybuses decorated with social ads promoting tolerance to working gays and lesbians. This campaign was financed by the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour together with the EU. “We do not agree to public demonstrations of homosexual ideas in Vilnius,” Mr Imbrasas said at that time.
The city authorities banned opening the gays’ flag in Rotušės Square prior to that as well. The said event had to become part of the International Gay Conference.
The negative response was officially substantiated by the city authorities by stating that repair works were underway in the square. However, in an informal setting the authorities acknowledged that the consent for holding the event was not granted fearing a negative public reaction or even riots.
The city authorities also mentioned they had amended the Public Order and Orderliness Rules in order to ensure they have the right to refuse issue of permits for events, which, in the opinion of the Police or of a special commission, might lead to riots or provoke a negative public reaction. They stated that any events of this type should take place in enclosed areas, where assurance of safety of participants and public is simpler.