Monday, November 12, 2007

LGBT, Freedom of Association

AI Index: EUR 53/003/2007
CAP Action Ref: CAPA 42/7

For action to: EU MCAP coordinators, ILGBT Network coordinators
From: Anders Dahlbeck
Date: 07/11/07
AI Members Only
Lithuania LGBT
AI CONCERN: LGBT, Freedom of Association
Please let us know what action you have taken on this MCAP action.

Lithuania must respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

On 21 May 2007, the mayor of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, Juozas Imbrasas, refused to give permission for a European Union-sponsored anti-discrimination truck tour -- which was visiting 19 member states as part of a 'For Diversity. Against Discrimination' information campaign -- to make its planned stop in Vilnius. The Vilnius City Council also voted unanimously to ban a tolerance campaign rally in support of human rights, including the rights of lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, due to take place on 25 May, citing "security reasons".

The mayor of Vilnius has also supported the decision by local bus drivers in Vilnius not to drive buses which had advertisements supporting LGBT rights on them. The mayor stated that "with priority for traditional family and seeking to promote the family values, we disapprove the public display of `homosexual ideas' in the city of Vilnius." The advertisement had been paid for by the Lithuanian Gay League with money granted from the EU.

On 24 October, the Vilnius City Council, refused to grant permission for a 30 metre rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBT rights movement, to be hoisted on the Town Hall Square. The hoisting of the flag was to be witnessed by an assembly of over 200 LGBT rights activists from around
40 different countries who were in Vilnius for a conference on LGBT rights organized by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), as well as several local organizations.

The official reason why the event could not go ahead was that construction works carried out on the Town Hall Square could endanger the safety of those participating in the event. The square was however safe enough to be open to the public at all times, and no alternative
venue was offered by the Vilnius City Council.
The Lithuanian parliament is currently considering legislation that would ban the "propagation of homosexuality" to children. The legislative change regards an amendment to the existing Law on the Protection of Minors against Detrimental Effect of Public Information.
The law currently covers issues such as portrayal of physical or psychological violence or vandalism; display of a dead or cruelly mutilated body of a person and information that arouses fear or horror, encourages self-mutilation or suicide. The proposed amendment would put information about homosexuality on par with these issues.
The authors of the proposed amendment have written in an explanatory note that "the propagation of a non-traditional sexual orientation and exposure to information containing positive coverage of homosexual relations may therefore cause negative consequences for the physical, mental and, first and foremost, moral development of minors."

Lithuania has a legal obligation to act "in the best interests of the child" (Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 3), which includes respecting the child's right to be free from discrimination, including that based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are recognized in numerous human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to which Lithuania is a state party. Although the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are not absolute rights, any interference with these rights has to be prescribed by law, and be necessary and proportionate to meet a legitimate aim under international law. Whilst an event may annoy or give offence to persons opposed to the ideas or claims that it is seeking to promote, the participants must be able to hold the event without having to fear
that they will be subjected to physical violence by persons or groups opposed to their ideas.


Write to the Lithuanian authorities:

• Reminding them that the rights to freedom of assembly and association is a human right for all;
• Urging them to respect, protect and promote the right to freedom of assembly and association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Lithuania;
• Calling on them not to make an amendment Law on the Protection of Minors against Detrimental Effect of Public Information which would make it illegal to discuss homosexuality in schools and in public information aimed at children
• Urging them to develop comprehensive sexuality education programmes which include information that is specific to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and which is not presented with the implicit message that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is a problem.


Regarding freedom of assembly, write to:

Raimondas Šukys (Minister of the Interior)
Šventaragio 2,


Juozas Imbrasas (Mayor of Vilnius)
City Hall,
Konstitucijos ave 3,

Regarding freedom of information and the Law on the Protection of Minors against Detrimental Effect of Public Information, please write to:

Virginijus Domarkas (chairman of the Committee of Education, Science and Culture, responsible for the working group which is proposing the changes in the law)
J. K. Chodkevič iaus g.
Kretinga m
[something is missing here: presumably `Vilnius, Lithuania']

Roma Žakaitienė (Minister of Education and Science)
A. Volano str. 2/7,

Amnesty International, International Secretariat, Peter Benenson
House, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 0DW, UK. www.amnesty. org