LGL Briefs Council of Europe on Execution of Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania

On July 31st, 2023, LGL submitted a brief regarding execution of Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania (Application Number 41288/15) under the Rule 9.2 of the Rules of the Committee of Ministers for supervising execution of the ECtHR judgments.

While LGL, which also represented applicants before national courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHtR), commends Lithuania’s steps taken towards satisfactory execution, it also highlights several concerning trends which suggests the need to keep case under standard supervision.

Some of these alarming trends include questionable criterions of real danger and systematic nature, still applied in Lithuanian case-law concerning hate crime, especially that with anti-LGBTI bias. This goes directly against ECHtR decision in Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania where it was stated that number of comments can be a criterion when determining the sentence, one single comment of hate incitement is enough to prosecute.

Brief also presents relevant data available at the Information Technology and Communications Department under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania which reveals that less cases concerning possibile crimes with hate bias reach advanced procedural stages, e.g. that 3 cases investigated under Article 170 of the Criminal Code (Incitement of hate) reached the court in 2019, while the number of the reported cases was 28.

Underreporting of hate crime with anti-LGBTIQ bias remains a highly concerning issue, however even cases that have been reported to the authorities do no receive adequate response, e.g. there were two different instances (taking place in 2020 and 2021) with very similar contexts and circumstances concerning homophobic threats directed at the staff of LGL. Pre-trial investigation in which the suspect was not identified, was suspended indefinitely , however, the one in which a suspect was identified was an applicant in a case against the municipality of Vilnius, questioning the legitimacy of a rainbow crosswalk and its compliance with traffic regulations.

LGL also noted on extremely long procedural terms, In May, 2022 a pre-trial investigation was launched against Member of Lithuanian Parliament Petras Gražulis after he called LGBT people “degenerate” and “spreading diseases” following the parliamentary debate on civil unions. It was directly aimed at a group of people who came to observe the debate. More than a year has passed since incident took place, yet pre-trial investigation still continues.

Brief also stressed on persistent negative attitudes and stereotypes, oftentimes stemming from representatives of Lithuanian authorities as well as the lack of sustainable  inter-intitutional cooperation and strategic commitment to hate crime response.

LGL requested to keep the Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania under standard supervision and asked the Committee of Ministers to urge the Lithuanian authorities to take the following measures to ensure the appropriate execution of the decision:

(a) ensure effective and transparent pre-trial investigation of hate crimes with anti-LGBTIQ bias,
(b) increase competencies of law enforcements institutions tackling hate crimes with homophobic,
biphobic, and transphobic bias
(c) take proactive steps to ensure meaningful cooperation and engagement with the LGBTIQ
community, including the process of organizing training activities aimed at increasing the
competencies of law enforcement professionals
(d) counter systematic issues related to perpetuating LGBTIQ-phobia in Lithuania.