The social advertisement promoting respect for homosexual rights placed on Kaunas trolleybus No. 1 aroused passion yesterday. The Lithuanian Gay League, which had ordered this advertisement, was informed that drivers refused to drive the trolleybus with such posters and the management of the trolleybus fleet required guarantees that they would be paid compensation for smashed windows. Soon afterward employees of the Imbela advertising company stripped from the trolleybus 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”. The company promised that it would not seek compensation from the gays for poster production costs. Meanwhile, Vladimiras Simonko, president of the Lithuanian Gay League, said he intends to appeal to the Ombudswoman for Equal Opportunities because he maintains that he had suffered discrimination on account of sexual orientation. Under the contract, these posters had to appear on trolleybus No. 12 in Vilnius.
Afraid of potential losses
According to Algirdas Krivickas, director of Kaunas trolleybus fleet, the trolleybus did not leave the garage because of a technical breakdown. This has also been recorded in the documents.
he fleet manager maintains, however, that the trolleybus with posters propagating gay rights might be vandalized. He therefore wants to discuss the contract with the advertising agency and specify liability for potential losses.
Comparison to the feeding of the hungry
When asked if there would be no further obstacles once the provision about responsibility in case of vandalism has been included, Krivickas said that he could not guarantee that he would definitely give a go-ahead. The director pointed out that he must put the enterprise’s interests first and that such posters may provoke certain feelings among employees. According to Krivickas, such an advertisement is not the same as giving food to the hungry.
Has been warned about potential problems
Vitoldas Bielinis, director of Imbela, talking to Lietuvos Rytas denied intending to terminate the contract with the Lithuanian Gay League. According to him, even though the trolleybus with these posters did not leave the garage because of a technical breakdown, no official report about such a breakdown has been received. The designing, making, pasting and removing the gay posters cost 3.5 thousand litas. Bielinis said he had explained to Simonko beforehand that this advertising might cause some problems. The gay activist reportedly answered that a negative result is also a result.
The advertisements were paid for with EU funds
Simonko told Lietuvos Rytas that for this social advertising he had to pay 17 thousand litas. This is the money which the gay league has received from the European Union and the Lithuanian government. According to Simonko, social advertisements opposing discrimination against gays and lesbians are popular in Europe. The Lithuanian posters, which were to be displayed on trolleybuses, were prepared on the basis of public opinion polls. The results of these polls indicated that more than half of Lithuanian residents think that gays should not be allowed to serve as policemen and lesbians should not be allowed to work as teachers. It is estimated that homosexual persons make up from 5 to 10 per cent of the population in each country of the European Union.