Once again, LGBT persons are not welcome on Lithuanian national television. Two commercial channels refused to air a video clip, produced by the national LGBT rights organization LGL, aimed at changing the negative attitudes of the public towards the LGBT community.
Although no shocking or intimate images appear in it, the commercial broadcasters were too scared of violating the law on Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information.
This video is part of the campaign “Change it”, which invites people to learn more about LGBT people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) by looking at the world through their eyes.
The video presents common assumptions on LGBT people: “Their lifestyle is unacceptable,” “This cannot be love,” “How can you call it a family”.
The authors of the video answer these questions with scenes from the daily lives of LGBT people and their allies: young people rolling the dice, two persons showing affection to each other, two girls walking in the street holding hands. “Love is love”, “family is family”, these are the final statements that summarize the video, and they are shown right before some figures are provided.
The Eurobarometer survey data shows that only 12 % of Lithuanian citizens declare having one LGB friend or acquaintance, only 3 % a transgender one. “The remaining 88 % also have LGBT persons in their lives, they just don’t realize it,” this the message of the campaign. The authors of the video claim and stress that discrimination of LGBT people may affect everyone’s loved ones. At the same time, the audience is encouraged to sign a petition to express support for LGBT human rights and to ensure their consolidation in Lithuania.
LGL organized a public procurement to air the video. A week ago “Lietuvos Rytas TV”, one of the Lithuanian commercial channels, stated that LGL should “cut off the end of the video”, or in LGL Board Chair Vladimir Simonko’s words “castrate it”, in order for it to be aired. Another channel, “LNK”, did not reply at all, and the letter sent by “TV3” on Tuesday suggested to consult the Inspector of Journalist Ethics first.
Vladimir Simonko believes that this attitude is equivalent to censorship and, sadly, happens repeatedly. A similar situation presented itself last year, when the national television “LRT” agreed to broadcast the Baltic Pride promotional video only at night-time. The video was considered to have a negative effect on minors. Inspector of Journalist Ethics Zita Zamžickienė passed a resolution in favor of the broadcaster.
“I do not know whom to blame: the channels or the law? In 2010 the controversial law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information passed and, though it was criticized by international organizations such as “Amnesty International”, “Human Rights Watch”, “ILGA-Europe”, it has been put in practice repeatedly. We have heard in various international events that the provision of the law is dead, but when someone considers it necessary, it is still perfectly applicable,” – said Vladimir Simonko.
“This law is almost identical to Putin’s provisions, the ones that are criticized all over the world. How may such a law, for which everybody criticizes Russia, be in place in the territory of the European Union? It is like a Trojan horse that could set a precedent, once it becomes common knowledge that you can talk about LGBT people only after midnight in Lithuania. Maybe next time they will put us in jail for providing information?”
“For me, as a European, it is sad and really worrying that such things happen in a supposedly democratic country. The officials are passively monitoring the situation,” – declared V. Simonko
According to V. Simonko, this conclusion originates not only from the censorship of the videos in the Lithuanian television. A few months ago the fairy tale book “Amber Heart”, by author Neringa Dangvydė, which includes characters in same-sex couples, caused a controversy and was permanently withdrawn from sale.