Controversial statements by the Lithuanian MP Agnė Širinskienė, Chair of the Committee on Health Affairs of Seimas and the member of the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union Party, are being debated in the Council of Europe. Being familiar with the MP’s claims that „homosexuality is not an innate trait, but a decision to perform homosexual acts“ from the newsletter sent by the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL, P. De Bruyn, Belgian MP and LGBTI human rights activist, initiated a written declaration in the Council of Europe, urging MP Širinskienė to refrain from public statements of this kind.
On January 26th, 2017 the Lithuanian MP Simonas Gentvilas, member of the Liberal Movement Party, informed about the declaration being signed in the Council of Europe on his public Facebook account. “Congratulations! The nonsenses of Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union Party have reached Europe! Belgian MP P. De Bruyn approached me in the corridors of Strasbourg and invited to sign a declaration against homophobic statements by MP Širinskienė. It turns out that our MP classified homosexuality as “harmful way of life”. I have signed the declaration condemning the nonsenses spoken by MP Širinskienė together with other Belgian, Polish, Danish, Swedish, Estonian, Polish, Italian and Greek parliamentarians. It would be fun to make Lithuania known in some other way than the Peasant and Greens Union Party does,“ insisted MP Simonas Gentvilas.
The declaration refers to the statements by MP Širinskienė made in an interview for a debate show “Right to Know”, broadcasted the by Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT) on November 27th, 2016. During the interview MP Širinskienė equated homosexual relations to smoking and drug abuse, when listing examples of lifestyle choices detrimental to one‘s health. According to the Chair of the Committee on Health Affairs of Seimas, a person is “free to choose homosexuality, drug use or smoking” and these “personal choices” should be respected. During the interview MP Širinskienė emphasized that she does not see homosexuality as an innate trait, but as a “decision to perform homosexual acts”.
The declaration, initiated by P. De Bruyn, Belgian MP and LGBTI rights activist, calls on MP Širinskienė “to refrain from public statements of this kind and on the Government officials and MPs to disavow any that are made”. The author of the declaration maintains that the “holders of the public office have particular responsibility to refrain from statements likely to incite hatred and discrimination against a minority”.
MP Širinskienė claimed that she is not familiar with the declaration condemning her statements being signed in the Council of Europe. “I will not comment it, because I have not seen it. If some delegates want to make any statements I wish them the best of luck. Everyone has freedom and right to do it,“ insisted the Chair of the Committee on Health Affairs of Seimas.
Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, Policy Coordinator (Human Rights) of the National LGBT* rights organization LGL, noted that the news about the statements of MP Širinskienė has reached the Council of Europe via LGL‘s newsletter. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) Association ILGA-Europe initiated opposition to such claims. The international organization seeks that it would be stated during the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.