Trolleybus No. 12, which had to advertise the rights of gays and lesbians in Vilnius, will not be in service today. Last night it was reported that it “had broken down”.
In a similar way, the desire of gay people to see public transportation plastered with rainbow colours did not materialize last week in Kaunas either.
In less than half a day social advertisements arguing in defence of gay rights were stripped off from the sides of the trolleybus.
At first it was announced that drivers refused to drive it and later – that the trolleybus had broken down.
Jonas Bielinis, director of Vilnius trolleybus fleet, said that the technical problem would soon be repaired but when it comes to the advertising itself, he will have to wait for a “political decision”.
The government of the capital will decide later today whether the trolleybus with the posters “A gay man can serve in the police force” “A lesbian woman can work as a teacher” and “Homosexual employees can be open” will ride through the streets of Vilnius. These posters were made as part of the EQUAL Project, which is supported by the Ministry of Social Security and Labour.
Juozas Imbrasas, the Mayor of Vilnius, told Lietuvos Rytas yesterday that this project would not be given a go-ahead. He said he had already talked to administration heads and vice mayors. None of them supported this idea.
“We must propagate the idea of the family. And those people, if they have such tendencies, may live as they please but it would not be very good if they made it public and advertised it,” Imbrasas explained.
Asked whether this would not violate the antidiscrimination laws, the Mayor answered, “We will talk to the lawyers to find out to what extent they are being violated.”
Vladimiras Simonko, president of the Lithuanian Gay League, paid a fee of 8 thousand litas in advance for this social advertisement under a contract with the Imbela company.
The total price, which would have been paid for this three-month advertising campaign, is 17 thousand litas.
Simonko stressed that he would make sure he gets this money back so that he can use it for another similar campaign.
Posters showing trolleybuses with gay ads and containing the caption “This trolleybus could have stopped here” will be posted at trolleybus stops.
He thinks that the disruption of this advertising campaign is a clear violation of the law.
The intergroup on gay and lesbian rights at the European Parliament as well as the International Gay and Lesbian Association in Brussels have both been informed about the events in Lithuania.
“I would like to ask the Mayor if gays have any right at all to use public transportation. Or maybe Vilnius will have a special trolleybus for homosexuals?” Simonko said indignantly.