Government disapproves a legislative initiative to remove sanctions for criticism of homosexuality

A group of the parliaments proposed to amend Lithuania’s Criminal Code by inserting a provision that “critics or discussion of sexual behaviour, sexual practices, convictions and views, or attempts to persuade to change such behaviours, practices, convictions and views, is not to be regarded in itself as sneer, belittlement, discrimination or incitement to discriminate”.

The amendment was proposed by A. Patackas (“The Way of Courage” Political Party), G. Jakavonis and D. Mikutienė (Labour Party), R. Kupčinskas, I. Degutienė, V. Juozapaitis (Homeland Union), E. Žakaris (Social Democratic Party), J. Narkevič (Polish Electoral Campaign) and E. Gentvilas (Liberal Movement) on 11 June 2013.

On 12 September 2013 the Parliament approved the proposal, despite the disapproval of The Legal Department of the Parliament and The European Legal Department. They stated that the legislative initiative goes against the principle of equality incorporated into the Lithuanian Constitution and the international human rights treaties.

According to the MPs, the amendment was proposed upon the request by the civil society actors in order to establish that “criticisms and remarks on sexual orientation would not be comprehended as discrimination, harassment, incitement to hatred, offence or slander”. Furthermore, they claim they are attempting to protect the constitutional right to freedom of expression, because “the recent years had witnessed an increase in pre-trial investigations under the Article 170 of the Criminal Code on the grounds of any negative comments towards a group of persons or a person belonging thereto”.

On 13 November 2013 the Government officially rejected to implement this legislative initiative.  Under the current law, criminal sanctions are applied for persons who incite to hatred against any national, racial, ethnic, religious or other group of persons.