Lithuanian television refuses to broadcast a music video containing same-sex couples

On November 6 2018, celebrating their 20th anniversary, a well-known Lithuanian pop-rock band Skamp released a new single “Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow” alongside a heart-warming music video. Lithuanian television refused to broadcast the music video portraying same-sex couples showing affection raising concerns over the censorship law.

Ever since their career took off back in 1998, Skamp is celebrated for its funky audacity and reckless lyricism, often exposing some truly unpopular beliefs. In 2001 Skamp took part in the Eurovision Song Contest where they placed 13th. “This song is about love therefore I thought it should contain all types of relationships, regardless of age or sexual orientation,” – says an Irish-born singer and songwriter Erica Jennings who believes that in 2018 any form of homophobia is unacceptable.

For Lithuanian broadcasters, however, the idea of same-sex couples showing affection on the the TV screen seemed far too daring. Whilst it is unknown which Lithuanian TV broadcaster refused to telecast the music video based on the assumption that the content of the music video is inappropriate for minors, the band members are concerned about the public’s exposure to other types of content that influence social behavior.

“The decision of the broadcaster tells us a lot about our society in which the exposure to violence on TV is so normalized that it leaves no space for love and diversity whatsoever,” – says Erica Jennings, an active supporter of the LGBTQIA community, urging the Lithuanian community to question these double standards.

In 2010, a controversial bill prohibiting any public information which encourages a concept of marriage and family other than the one stipulated in the Constitution of Lithuania was passed with the view to protect the well-being of minors. Although the law does not mention LGBT-related content specifically, it has been applied on numerous occasions censoring the dissemination of promotional videos of Baltic Pride or the publishing of a children’s fairytale book involving same-sex couples.

A contested notion of family, however, provides for a fertile ground to dispute over the legitimacy of the law and ways in which it is being implemented. As a consequence, the refusal to broadcast Skamp’s music video is perceived as an institutional dread over a possible violation of the law. For Skamp, the visibility of the LGBTQIA community is crucial in order to increase awareness of wide-spread intolerance and hostility targetting same-sex couples. The music video does it justice.