Raimondas Petrauskas, Lithuania’s Interim Attorney General and Stanislovas Buškevičius, member of the Kaunas City Council, on 3rd May have applied to the court to ban the Baltic Pride/March for Equality scheduled for 8th May, which was previously authorised by the Mayor of Vilnius. Their appeal was motivated by concerns over potential security risks.
According to Mr Petrauskas, the Attorney General’s office had evidence that protests would be organised by various radical groups seeking to provoke unrest if the March goes ahead. The police force however has stated in the past that they are confident and security can be assured.
On 5th May the lower Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, having investigated the applications lodged, decided to grant the applicant’s requests and to suspend the validity of Clauses 1–4 of executive order No. 40-352 of 23/04/2010 of the director of Vilnius City Municipal Administration ‘Regarding permission to organise the march “For Equality”’ until the day of the court ruling coming into effect.
On the same day Baltic Pride organizers submitted separate appeal regarding the decision by Vilnius Regional Administrative Court.
Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court overruled the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court decision on 7th May. The court said European Union law obligates the nation to protect the rights to free expression and assembly and “the state has a duty to ensure the right to peaceful assembly, even of people whose opinions are not popular or represent minorities”.
Article 36 of the Lithuanian Constitution states: “Citizens may not be prohibited or hindered from assembling unarmed in peaceful meetings.” In March 2010, the government of Lithuania approved the Council of Europe’s Recommendations on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Please find separate appeal submitted by Baltic Pride organizers here.
Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Courts’ decision in English will be available soon.