Newly Elected Mayor of Vilnius Has “No Problems” with LGBT* Pride Events

The new mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius (Liberal Movement), elected on March 15th, 2015 claims that he sees “no problems with allowing” LGBT* pride events to be held on the central avenue in the downtown of the Lithuanian capital city. However, in response to a public question by a representative of the national LGBT* rights organization LGL on whether he will march in the Baltic Pride 2016 “March for Equality” to support local LGBT* community, the politician responded that he “does not know yet”.

“I see no problems with any parades,” – claimed Mr. Šimašius in an interview to the Lithuanian news agency BNS. “All types of parades of those who want to march will be allowed, as long as they do not disturb other residents of Vilnius. We must enjoy democracy in Vilnius. I see no reason for banning someone from marching along Gediminas Avenue, if it is not during the rush hour,” – added the newly elected mayor of the Lithuanian capital.

In 2013, the administration of the Vilnius City Municipality suggested moving LGL’s organized Baltic Pride 2013 “March for Equality” to more remote Upės Street. However, the national courts ruled that the proposed restriction was ungrounded. About 1000 members of the LGBT* community and their supporters marched on Gedimino Avenue on July 27th, 2013.

The former mayor of Vilnius Artūras Zuokas, who lost Sunday’s election to Mr. Šimašius, then stated that “Vilnius definitely does not need such festivals,” adding that it was organized in order to antagonize people rather than to promote tolerance.

Lithuania’s first Baltic Pride “March for Equality”, organized by the national LGBT* rights association LGL, took place on Upės Street in 2010. The Prosecutor General then wanted to ban the event but the national courts decided it had to take place.

In 2016 the national LGBT* rights organization LGL will organize the Baltic Pride “March for Equality” for the third time. On March 13th, 2015 LGL’s Policy Coordinator for Human Rights Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius raised a public question to the candidate to the mayors of Vilnius Mr. Šimašius on the social network FaceBook on whether he will march in the Baltic Pride 2016 “March for Equality” to support the local LGBT* community and its allies. The future mayor of Vilnius responded later that day: “I support all manifestations of democracy. Though I do not know whether I will march.”