Lithuanians in London – First Business Professionals to Ever Support LGBT* Festival in Vilnius

Lithuanian City of London Club is an organization uniting business professionals and maintaining close ties with Lithuanian business, political and community leaders. Guided by its core values – tolerance, equality, meritocracy and respect, Lithuanian City of London Club has become an official sponsor of the „Baltic Pride“ 2016 – the first organization representing business professionals to ever do so. Today we converse with Marius Raugalas, the President of the Board of the Lithuanian City of London Club, about the motivation of the club members to support this LGBT* community festival taking place in Lithuania.

Why is it important to the members of the Lithuanian City of London Club to support the Baltic Pride 2016, taking place in Vilnius this June?

The objectives of Baltic Pride 2016 festival coincide with the core values and objectives of the Lithuanian City of London Club – to promote respect, tolerance and equality in the society. Lithuania lags behind Western Europe and other modern democratic countries on the issues regarding the LGBT* human rights. At the same time, we are already following the example of the same countries on economic, legal and cultural. It is a great opportunity for Lithuanian City of London Club to draw public attention to a problem, which is clearly visible to us while following events in Lithuania from afar. We would also like to invite the country leaders to participate more actively in this discussion that is so important to our country

Why businesses should support LGBT* community events?

Successful business leaders in Lithuania and all over the world contribute to the formation of societies’ opinions. The decisions, actions and public statements of these leaders draw the attention of the significant part of the population. For example, the executives of the international companies, such as Facebook, Apple or Google, actively participate in similar civil actions by expressing their opinions on the issues important to the public. While similar actions do not always bring commercial benefit to companies, the true business leaders feel the responsibility to support what is right. In addition, they are characterized by the ability to see a long-term perspective and the belief that their opinions, including the opinion on the LGBT* human rights issues, will become clear for their clients, employees and business partners in the future.

Do you see any major differences regarding the culture of support in the United Kingdom and Lithuania?

The main difference is that the business community in the United Kingdom is a key force behind the movement for LGBT* human rights. All major banks, corporations and IT start-ups support the London Pride festival by participating in the march. Their employees show solidarity with local LGBT* community and proudly march carrying the rainbow flags. The large companies in the United Kingdom organise the LGBT* support groups, discussions and various events, aiming to increase employees’ sensitivity to the LGBT* human rights issues. Here, unlike in Lithuania, it is common belief that the struggle for LGBT* human rights is every citizen’s concern.

What would you like to wish for the LGBT* community and the business representatives in Lithuania?

For the LGBT* community, we would like to wish vigour and determination in continuing to pursue positive changes, that are already underway in many areas in Lithuania. For the business representatives, we would like to wish courage to support what is socially just and to contribute more actively to the discussions about tolerance, equality, diversity and other issues important to the public.