UPDATE 17 December 2010
On 16 December 2010, amendments to the Administrative Code introducing fines for the “promotion of homosexual relations” were taken off the agenda of the Seimas plenary session because they had not been examined by the relevant parliamentary committees. It is possible that they will be tabled again at the plenary session of the Seimas in spring next year. Amnesty International will continue to closely monitor developments regarding this draft bill and will take action should further attempts to unlawfully restrict the rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people be made.
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On 16 December, the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) will vote on a draft law that would punish the “promotion of homosexual relations” with a fine of between 580 and 2,900 Euros.
On 12 November, the Parliament approved in first reading an amendment to Article 214 of the Lithuanian Administrative Code stating that “public promotion of homosexual relations is to be punished by a fine from 2,000 to 10,000 litas.“
This legislative initiative is blatantly discriminatory and would unlawfully restrict the right to freedom of expression of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people, and violate Lithuania’s obligations under international law. Amnesty International is therefore urging members of the Lithuanian parliament to vote against this discriminatory amendment of the Administrative Code.
Amnesty International is also concerned that the vague formulation of the new Article 214 would punish almost any public expression or portrayal of, or information about, homosexuality. These actions include, but are not limited to, campaigning on human rights issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, providing sexual health information to LGBT people or organizing gay film festivals and organizing and/or attending Pride events.
The promoter of this bill, MP Petras Gražulis – already well known for his homophobic views and strong opposition to the Baltic Pride march held on 8 May in Vilnius – has explicitly stated that one of the important aims of such amendment is to prevent events like the Baltic Pride from being held in Lithuania in the future.
The amendment would violate a range of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and the principle of non-discrimination, and would aggravate homophobia in Lithuania.
Image: © Magda Maxi Jakab