International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) was celebrated in Lithuania by Rainbow Days, organised by the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL).
Rainbow Days were opened on Wednesday 16 May at a press conference held in the Parliament. The conference introduced LGL’s new publication “Changing Faces – First March for LGBT Equality in Lithuania”. In addition to Member of Parliament Marija Aušrinė Pavilionienė, speakers at the conference included Ambassador of the Netherlands Kornelis Spaans, John Finkbeiner, Political-Economic Chief at the Embassy of the United States, and Helle Jacobsen from Amnesty International.
On Wednesday evening the ambassadors to Lithuania of France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Spain and the Czech Republic hosted a joint reception for the LGBT-friendly civil society of Lithuania, gathering representatives of various human rights organisations, ministries, public authorities and other institutions at the French ambassador’s residence to celebrate achievements made in LGBT rights in Lithuania. In their speeches the host ambassadors shared experiences and developments from their respective countries.
A seminar about the changing face of LGBT in the Lithuanian media was held on Thursday at Conti Hotel. Participants had the opportunity to learn about and discuss for instance which topics dominate the discourse about the LGBT community, who owns the voice of this discourse, and how this discourse has evolved. Speakers included Chairman of Lithuanian Journalists Union, Chairman of Lithuanian Ethics Commission, and various journalists. The closing words of the seminar were delivered by US Ambassador to Lithuania Anne E. Derse, who encouraged open discussion about LGBT issues in Lithuania and emphasized that gay rights are human rights.
In the evening Skalvija Cinema hosted a film screening and discussion. The audience saw two documentaries with different perspectives on Baltic Pride. The screening was followed by discussion on the significance of Baltic Pride with panelists including Vilius Navickas, who was mayor when the first Pride was held in Vilnius.
Friday saw a colourful public action. A group of LGBT people and friends rode an open-top bus decorated with balloons, flags and banners around Vilnius, stopping at the Parliament and Municipality building to spread a 30-metre rainbow flag. The action “We Are for All Colours of Life” highlighted tolerance, solidarity and unity. The week ended with a celebration at Soho Club, where several well-known Lithuanian DJs and singers performed, showing their support for LGBT rights.
Rainbow Days were supported by the European Union Programme PROGRESS (2007-2013), Open Society Foundations and Amnesty International.