The Lithuanian Gay League was angered by the initiative put forward in the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) to treat information related to the propagation of homosexual relations as having a negative impact on the physical, mental and moral development of minors. The leaders of this organization maintain that such a provision would be equivalent to discrimination and contradict the laws currently in force. It would also prevent this organization from disseminating information about homosexuality and about its activities.
Under the Law on the Protection of Minors against Detrimental Effect of Public Information, the detrimental effect on the development of minors is caused by public information that relates to the portrayal of physical or psychological violence (killing, mutilation or torture of people and animals) or vandalism; public indulgence in such acts; display of a dead or cruelly mutilated body of a person, except in cases when such a portrayal is necessary for identification purposes; information, which is erotic in nature or arouses sexual desire.
According to this law, detrimental effect is also caused by information that arouses fear or horror, encourages self-mutilation or suicide; in which drugs, psychotropic materials, tobacco or alcohol and their use and criminal activities are assessed favourably; in which obscene language, words or gestures are frequently used; which encourages discrimination based on nationality, race, gender, origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion or other affiliation.
Several months ago a group of MPs introduced a bill that would include in this list also information related to the propagation of homosexual relations.
According to the authors of the amendment, the bill was prepared as a reaction to the propagation of relations between persons of non-traditional sexual orientation that recently has become more common in television programmes, in the press and during public discussions. Allegedly, these relations are often presented as a normal lifestyle or as a model to be followed.
“Minors are one of the most vulnerable groups of society and they still do not have firm views on life,” the authors maintain in their explanatory note. “The propagation of a non-traditional sexual orientation and exposure to information containing positive coverage of homosexual relations may therefore cause negative consequences for the physical, mental and, first and foremost, moral development of minors.”
The authors of the amendment hope that by introducing these proposed changes in the law “traditional family values would be promoted and minors would be protected from the negative influence of public information.”
It is hoped that this bill will be considered by the Seimas during this autumn session.
Audronė Pitrėnienė, Chairwoman of the Committee on Education, Science and Culture and one of the authors of the amendment, could not explain what specific information would be deemed the propagation of homosexual relations that has a negative effect on the development of minors. In addition, she did not answer the question whether such movies as the popular Hollywood film Brokeback Mountain, which portrays a love story between two men, would also be deemed as having a detrimental effect.
“For now, I could not answer this question because this bill has not yet been discussed by our committee. It is only a proposal and during the discussions we should listen to all the proponents and opponents and fine-tune the proposed amendment,” the MP told news portal Delfi.
“I hoped that the members of the Seimas would be wise enough to refrain from raising such an issue,” commented Vladimiras Simonko, the Board Chairman of the Lithuanian Gay League. In his opinion such “absurd initiatives” show that homophobic views are prevalent in parliament.
The leader of the NGO, which unites homosexual and bisexual citizens aged 18 years and over, maintains that even a cursory glance at the bill would reveal that legally speaking it is poorly prepared because it contradicts the existing law: “One paragraph says that the dissemination of information propagating discrimination should not be allowed while the other paragraph of the same article legalizes it.”
Simonko speculated that this amendment might be intended to prohibit the broadcast of morally corrupting images, but this would be a redundant provision. “We are also against the corruption of minors but this would have to apply to the portrayal of any inappropriate relations, both homosexual and heterosexual. Abut this law already covers the dissemination of morally corrupting information,” he emphasized.
The leader of the Gay League also cited the dictionary of foreign words in which the word “propagation” is defined as the dissemination and promotion of ideas. “Consequently, we would be prevented from spreading our ideas and our organization, which declares the spread of information about itself as one of its objectives, would become illegal. This is anti-European, it contradicts freedom of speech!” Simonko stated indignantly.
“Such films as Brokeback Mountain appear once a year. And each day we have to watch movies about heterosexual love. This does not mean, however, that I will become heterosexual. This is one of those absurd myths that we have to deny again and again. Homosexuality is not a desease,“ said the interviewee. “If the proposed amendment is passed, films about homosexuals would have to be banned. This would be grounds for banning our website because it is also accessible to minors.”