Mr Speaker, Members of Seimas, distinguished members of the Lithuanian Gay League, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to this important press conference. I am very honoured and very moved. I have been asked to speak about the Swedish experience regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. But as this press conference is the first of a series of events supported and funded by the European Union, let me first put LGBT-matters in an European perspective.
This is the “European Year of Equal Opportunities for all” and the protection of equal human rights is something that all countries in the European Union stand behind. On 3rd May 2007, TheEuropean Court of Human Rightsdelivered its judgement that clearly stated that everyone has the right to gather and express their opinions in public, including LGBT pride events such as the one which is planned for next week. To obstruct these rights is illegal and discriminatory. Any attempt to undermine equal human rights, including LGBT rights, is something the Swedish Government strongly opposes. The Swedish Foreign Minister, Mr Carl Bildt, who made a speech here in Seimas on January 13, stated in our Parliament that “For the [Swedish] Government it is self-evident that Sweden will react against discrimination of Homosexual, Bisexual and Transgender people wherever in the world it occurs. The [Swedish] Government is continuously raising these problems in bilateral dialogue with Governments where discrimination and other Human Rights violations are taking place.” The Swedish EU-minister and former Member of the European Parliament Cecilia Malmström will participate in an Pride-event planned to take place in Warsaw later this week.
The Swedish Government have during the last 20 years introduced many laws in order to strengthening the LGBT-rights. One of our important Swedish laws is The Basic Principles of the Constitution; Chapter 1, section 2 (SFS2002:905): “The public institutions shall combat discrimination of persons on grounds of gender, colour, national or ethnic origin, linguistic or religious affiliation, disability, sexual orientation, age or other circumstance affecting the private person. Sexual orientation is also included in the Penal code of Incitement to hatred chapter 16, section 8. Sweden also has a Registered Partnership Act, since 1995 and the Swedish Ombudsman against discrimination on sexual grounds.
Even in an open and democratic society the LGBT rights are not taken for granted. The LGBT rights in Sweden have developed from a long struggle for openness. RFSL- The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights- started already in 1950 and is one of the oldest LGBT rights organisations in the world. The LGBT rights in Sweden developed from similar initiatives like the Rainbow Days that is organised here in Lithuania this week. The largest pride event in Sweden is the Stockholm Pride Festival. It started 1998 and has grown to be one of Stockholm’s largest annual festivals. All these pride events have contributed to the strengthening of the Swedish legislation on LGBT rights.
The Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) should feel that is has a strong official support from the Swedish Government. LGBT rights in an open and democratic society, is a matter of concern for everyone.
That is why I am proud to be here in Seimas today and to see people who stand up for basic European values.
I wish you good luck in your very important endeavour.