Recent Anti-LGBTI Developments in Hungary Resonate with the LGBTI Rights Situation in Lithuania

In June, Hungary became the second country in the EU to pass the anti-gay proaganda law, as Viktor Orbán’s ruling party intensified its campaign against LGBTI rights. Since 2009 Lithuanian LGBTI community has been struggling with the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information containing a similar anti-LGBTI provision.

According to its article 4(2)(16), Public Information which expresses contempt for family values, encourages the concept of entry into a marriage and creation of a family other than stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania is considered having a Detrimental Effect on the Development of Minors.

Although in the recent years the discriminatory applications of said provision are becoming rarer, such instances are still being recorded. In 2019 social program on same-sex parents was temporarily suspended, while in 2021 student thesis was declined in one of the largest Vilnius colleges simply because it addressed sexuality and gender diversity in the education environment.

Newly elected Lithuanian Parliament led by a coalition of Conservative and Liberal powers adopted amendments to the  Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information on January 14, 2021 which did not in any way address its discriminatory provision. Amendment proposal is also not included in the Government’s Legislative Plan for 2021–2024.

Lithuania, however, has joined the statement of 17 EU Member States, expressing concern regarding recent developments in Hungary. Nevertheless, on a different occasion President Gitanas Nausėda refused to sign the joint letter of EU leaders, denouncing recent threats against fundamental rights and the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. President then also proceeded to comment that he does not think that such action is “right” and that it should be looked at what “Hungary is seeking to do, what it has done and only then take on the role of a judge.”

Such attempts to back Hungary’s anti-LGBTI developments and the overall political inadequacy reflect on and negatively contribute to the already highly alarming situation of uncertainty for the local LGBTI community in Lithuania.