The European Commission condemns Imbrasas’ position on gays

Rainbow Days 2007, an event planned by homosexuals for this week in Vilnius, will not take place. The truck of the anti-discrimination campaign, which is touring Europe, will bypass the capital of Lithuania and a huge rainbow flag will not be displayed here either. Amid fears of potential unrest the government of the capital refused to issue permission for this rally. This decision was condemned by the European Commission (EC).
The Directorate-General for Communication said in a statement on Monday that it regrets the decision to cancel the planned event.
“This is the first time in the four years the truck has been on tour around Europe that a stop has been cancelled by local authorities. <…> The decision by the city authorities shows how much still needs to be done to change behaviour and attitudes towards discriminated groups and to promote awareness of diversity. This is even more important in this Year of Equal Opportunities for All,” says the EC in its letter.
“We are tolerant to people of any sexual orientation , but as we give priority to the traditional family and try to propagate family values, we do not approve of the public demonstration of homosexual ideas in the city of Vilnius,” Vilnius Mayor Juozas Imbrasas, a liberaldemocrat, has said.
“We refused to issue permission to a rally during which neither we nor the organizers could ensure public order and safety of its participants,” Vilnius Municipality Administration Director Gintautas Paluckas told the DELFI news portal. According to him, the city authorities received information that protests against the event of the homosexuals were being planned in Vilnius. Announcements posted in the city call upon the residents of Vilnius to come on Friday to Municipality Square and “prevent the propagation of homosexuality”.
Rainbow Days 2007 organized by the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) had to become part of the wide campaign “For Diversity. Against Discrimination.”, which is supported by the European Commission (EC). The truck with the slogans of this campaign is touring Europe and was supposed to stop in Vilnius on Friday.
Renita Paleckienė, the coordinator of the “For Diversity. Against Discrimination.” campaign in Lithuania assured DELFI that of all the events that have been planned in the cities of Lithuania, the stop of the „diversity express“ in Vilnius is the only that has been cancelled.
Aušrinė Burneikienė expresses her concern
The Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson expressed its concern over the refusal to issue permission for the “For Diversity. Against Discrimination.” event.
The Office said that there are also concerns about the manifestations of intolerance towards persons of non-traditional sexual orientation, homophobic statements that have become more common in recent days, and the promotion of hatred toward homosexual people on the Internet. In the context of the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All the state and municipal institutions, nongovernmental organizations and civil society should pay particular attention to combating discrimination on various grounds, fighting human rights violations and preventing openly expressed hatred based on stereotypes towards certain members of society.
According to Aušrinė Burneikienė, the Ombudswoman for Equal Opportunities, „this situation is a cause for concern about what the reaction will be to other events planned under the strategy of the Year of Equal Opportunities for All, which will seek to draw the public’s attention to existing discrimination based on religion and belief, ethnic origin, race or disability”.