Gay Lithuania News and Reports 2011

1 The Racist and Homophobic Election Campaign 2/11

2 Open letter on the exclusion of gays from roundtable on human rights 2/11

3 Lithuania Ignores European Court Decision 3/11

4 Committee Votes to “Improve” the Ban on “Gay Propaganda” 4/11

5 Lithuanian Parliament still unready to reject anti-gay law 4/11

6 The European Union Fails to Halt the Spread of Homophobia 4/11

7 Lithuania: National equality body draws a line between "LGB" and "T" 5/11

8 From ban to protection 6/11

9 Harassment…gender and sexual orientation widespread in universities 6/11

10 Meeting with the reps of the US State Department at the LGBT centre in Vilnius 7/11

11 MEPs welcome Lithuania’s new progressive law on advertising 7/11

12 Kids are openly taught to despise gay people 7/11

13 First LGBT film festival ‘Kitoks Kinas’ (Diverse Cinema) kicks off 7/11

14 Harsh LGBT rights restrictions to be considered by lawmakers 9/11

16 February, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

The Racist and Homophobic Election Campaign of "Young Lithuania"

by Emily Daras Article Date:
Vilnius, Lithuania: The political party “Jaunoji Lietuva” (Young Lithuania) continues to shock the Lithuanian media with its racist and homophobic election slogans during this current municipal election campaign, despite the party’s clear violations of campaign laws. The party, led by party chairman and Vice-Mayor of Kaunas S. Buðkevièius, uses bigoted euphemisms to attack minority groups in Lithuania within their main campaign slogan, “For A Lithuania Without Blue, Black, Red, and Gypsies From the Encampment”. Although these offensive euphemisms are clearly understood by most Lithuanians, the party explains their slogan in explicit detail:

For a Lithuania be þydrø [without blue] – for example, without the ideology of sexual perversion that is being imposed on us from abroad – be juodø [without black] – for example, without black money and liberalist and tolerant traditions, and be raudonø – for example, without communist yeast that is still torturing our society.

Nine Lithuanian human rights NGOs including LGL has submitted a complaint to the Prosecutor General regarding the campaigning strategies of the Young Lithuania party, and the Central Electoral Commission is also taking the electoral campaign of the Young Lithuania Party under consideration and has approached the Prosecutor General as well. Lithuanian Human rights centre and Human Rights Monitoring Institute has begun preparations of a request, to be filed jointly with other NGOs, to the Ministry of Justice to analyze the activities of the political party. The racist and homophobic campaigning strategies and slogans of the Young Lithuania party are illegal according to the Law of the Political Parties, and could result in the prohibition of the party’s campaigning activities in the fut ure.

Such obvious hatred against minority groups, including those of different races, genders, ethnicities, political ideologies, sexual orientations and identities, and social classes, is certainly not a new tradition of the Young Lithuania party: Chairman S. Buðkevièius was the individual who filed the appealed to the Vilnius Administrative Court to suspend Baltic Pride in May 2010.

23 February, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

Open letter on the exclusion of gay groups from Parliamentary roundtable on human rights

By Aliaksandr Paluyan and Vladimir Simonko Article Date: 23 Feb, 2011
Dear Mr. Ažubalis and Mr. Zingeris,

As representatives of the non-governmental organizations Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) and Gay Alliance Belarus (GAB), we are writing concerning the recent exclusion of LGL from participation in the round table discussion held by the Lithuanian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee regarding the Belarusian democratic opposition and human rights issues. After answering the invitation for NGOs to take part in the discussion to be held on Wednesday, February 23, LGL was informed that there was no space for an LGBT organization to participate.

This rejection, made by from Ramunas Misulis, the Head of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs Committee of Lithuanian Parliament, directly contradicts the mission of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) and their official position on inclusion and welcoming “constructive, focused and consolidated civil society recommendations on all issues concerning the OSCE human dimension.” We are especially concerned since, after the meeting took place, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Council, Catherine Ashton, released letter stating that “this is the time for real work,” and that it is necessary to intensify the dialogue and support Belarusian civil society, and for the European Union to increase the amount of direct aid for non-governmental organizations of Belarus.

LGL is already connected with several Belarusian human rights non-governmental organizations, and believes it can be a strong contributing force as Lithuania moves ahead in defining how the country will support the Belarusian opposition. “LGL is eager to be involved with what was described in the call for NGO participants at this meeting – namely, ?opportunities for involvement with activities in Lithuania regarding the Belarusian democratic opposition.’ We want to participate in dialogues concerning human rights, inclusion, tolerance, and equality – the very issues specified on the invitation issued by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lithuanian Parliament for NGOs to participate in this discussion,” said Em Šaras, Communications Officer at LGL.

Vladimir Simonko, Chair of LGL, said on Wednesday: “If LGL is not invited to participate in this round table discussion, despite our NGO status and focus on equality of human rights, how can we expect that LGL will be considered an equal partner in supporting the democratic opposition in Belarus? Lithuanian politicians – including Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis – have to be brave and send a strong message of inclusion and equality for all within this democratization process.”

GAB regrets to hear about this decision of the round table organizers. Aliaksandr Paluyan, Coordinator at GAB, states that “European politicians have once again demonstrated that some issues – in particular, the issues of equality of homosexuals – are treated on a different plane than other issues with regards to the overall processes of democracy and human rights. This is unacceptable behavior towards Lithuanian Gay League, which should serve as an example for other countries and organizations that are fighting for and defending human rights and democracy. We hope that this action was just a mistake made by the round table organizers, and that the Lithuanian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee and OSCE will reconsider their attitudes towards Lithuanian Gay League, and that LGL will be to take part in round table meetings and conferences on the issues at stake in Belarus in the future.”

As you may be aware, Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) is a Lithuanian NGO, founded in 1995 that advocates for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans individuals in Lithuania. The Gay Alliance of Belarus was established in 2008 as an initiative group fighting for sexual and gender equality and human rights. Both of these organizations have worked for years on human rights issues, with a focus on fighting homophobia, exclusion, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These groups do the important work of disseminating accurate information about the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and creating favorable conditions for the development of safe and healthy LGBT communities through various cultural events, human rights conferences, education, and social activities. We look forward to hearing from you about this critical issue.

Aliaksandr Paluyan Vladimir Simonko
Coordinator At Gay Alliance Belarus Chair At Lithuanina Gay League

View this article’s attachment here

March 9, 2011 – UK Gay News

Lithuania Ignores European Court Decision and Proposes to Ban Gender Reassignment

Vilnius(LGL) – Lithuanian conservative parliamentarians, led by the chairman of the Committee on Health Affairs, registered a proposal yesterday to amend the Civil Code with a prohibition of gender reassignment surgery. The members of the Seimas who submitted this draft amendment to the Civil Code said that if the permission to undergo gender reassignment surgery is replaced with the prohibition of such surgeries, “the state will be protected from any preconditions which create grounds for the appearance of claims against Lithuania at the European Court of Human Rights”.

In 2007, Lithuania lost a case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) concerning a transsexual’s right to gender reassignment. The infringement was recognised because Lithuania had not adopted any special law concerning gender reassignment, although such a law is mentioned in the Civil Code. The ECHR ruling recognised that Lithuania had violated the claimant L.’s right to respect of private life and obligated Lithuania, within three months from the date the ruling entered into effect, to pass a law regulating the procedure and conditions of gender reassignment.

The also ruling specified that if such a law was not passed within the set time period, Lithuania would have to pay the claimant EUR 40,000 as compensation for material damages, and the compensation was actually paid. At present, the Civil Code provides that an unmarried adult is entitled to undergo gender reassignment surgery if it is possible medically, while the conditions and procedure of gender reassignment are set by legislation. However, no such legislation has been passed.

The initiators of the draft amendment propose that the aforementioned provisions be deleted and replaced by the provision that gender reassignment surgery is prohibited in Lithuania and that civil registry entries concerning gender reassignment surgeries performed abroad be amended by court decision only. Vladimir Simonko, chair of the national LGBT advocacy organisation Lithuanian Gay League, today expressed strong concerns about the legislative initiative which if adopted would clearly contravene the Lithuania’s obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights.

“Trans people are already suffering from discrimination because national equal treatment law does not explicitly include gender reassignment,” he told UK Gay News.

April 13, 2011 – UK Gay News

Lithuanian Parliamentary Committee Votes to “Improve” the Ban on “Gay Propaganda”

Vilnius (LGL) – A majority of the members of the Committee on Legal Affairs of Lithuanian Parliament today voted for the “improvement” of a legislative amendment which seeks to establish harsh fines for the “propagation of homosexual relations in the public”. The author of the anti-gay law, MP Petras Gražulis now has unlimited time to come up with a new amended proposal which has to go for consideration in the parliamentary committees once again.

“This is a one more warning act of institutionalised homophobia which prevails among Lithuanian lawmakers,” commented Valdimir Simonko, chair of the national LGBT advocacy association Lithuanian Gay League (LGL). “Such kind of legislative proposals are totally unacceptable in the context of the legally binding Charter of Fundamental Rights which clearly prohibits any discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. We urge European Commission as the guardian of the Lisbon Treaty to intervene immediately,” he pleaded.

Yesterday a group of Lithuanian parliamentarians appealed to the heads of the Lithuanian Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and other religious groups asking them to publicly encourage parliamentarians to approve the draft law currently being discussed in the Seimas regarding the establishment of administrative liability for “propagating homosexual relationships”. According to the parliamentarians, the provisions of the draft law are in compliance with the overall position expressed by the heads of the Lithuanian Catholic, Russian Orthodox, and Evangelical Lutheran Churches.

In a letter to the church leaders, signed by Mr. Grazulis and 23 other members of the Seimas, the parliamentarians wrote that in May 2010, the meeting of the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference expressed concern about the “propagating of various forms of sinful lifestyles faced by today’s society”.

The letter goes on to point out that “the ideology of homosexuality is one such form and is unacceptable to believers, contradicts the concept of the family, the marriage of man and woman, the natural law established by the Creator, the Constitution which considers family the foundation of the Lithuanian state, and the catechism of the Catholic Church which emphasises that homosexual relations contradict the natural law and close the sexual act to the gift of life. In addition, we can state that this position of the Church also arises from the notion of homosexuality as a grave perversion in the Bible.”

According to the parliamentarians, the provisions of the draft law are in compliance with the overall position expressed by the heads of the Lithuanian Catholic, Russian Orthodox, and Evangelical Lutheran Churches that “the family created through marriage is the foundation of the Church and the state. Only the family created through marriage provides an environment where man can begin with dignity, be born, mature, and improve. However this mission of the family is hindered today by an erroneous understanding of freedom, allowing other ‘unions’, such as living together or partnerships to be considered equal to the family created through marriage.”

2011 April 20 –

Lithuanian Parliament still unready to reject anti-gay law

By a majority vote on Tuesday (19/04/2010), the Seimas approved the proposal of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Seimas to return the amendments to the Administrative Code to legislator Gražulis for improvement. According to Stasys Šedbaras, the chairman of the committee, the draft law must not contain provisions which could be held to be contravening the Constitution, establish sanctions against a single group of people on the basis of their sexual orientation, or contain provisions contravening international obligations.

Parliamentarian Petras Gražulis has made ‘improvements’ to amendments he initiated to the Administrative Code. These amendments seek to establish penalties for ‘propagating homosexual relationships’, a move LGL chairman Vladimir Simonko says could suppress gay pride parades, film festivals and other public advocacy events for LGBT rights.

In his early version of the amendment to the law, Gražulis suggested that ‘public propagation of homosexual relations [will be] subject to a fine of 2,000 to 10,000 litas (580 – 2896 euros)’.

In the new proposal, Gražulis clarifies that the propagation of homosexual relations is the ‘public propagation of homosexual relations – the dissemination of such ideas or campaigning for them’. Gražulis has also changed his mind concerning the maximum fine, suggesting an amount of 6,000 instead of 10,000 litas (1737 – 2896 euros) for propagating homosexual relationships.

‘In principle nobody persecutes them [homosexuals], but we are defending our children from them so that they would not cripple our children. Personally, they may live as they want but not cripple our children’, Gražulis said.

Social Democrat Birute Vesaite explained that according to the Constitution all people are equal irrespective of their sexual orientation. ‘As long as there are initiatives such as the initiative of Gražulis to penalise and prohibit, I believe people of another orientation also have the right to protest against such unthinking members of the Seimas who trample the Constitution and human rights and dignity in general’, Vesaite said after suggesting that the draft law should be rejected outright.

April 21, 2011 – Sentidog
(Translated from Spanish)

The European Union Fails to Halt the Spread of Homophobia

The country’s parliament passed a bill that will expand the scope of a law banning "public propaganda of homosexuality." Despite the European Union requirements, the country is moving towards integration of homophobia in public institutions. Lithuania’s politicians want to ‘improve’ the existing legislation is currently offering a degrading treatment of sexual minorities from the law. The country has hardly imposing measures against the "public propaganda of homosexuality, thus securing frighten the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender event to the extent that the authorities can ban based on the laws.

Despite these prohibitions, politicians want more homophobia. A large majority of the Judicial Committee of the Lithuanian Parliament has passed a bill that proposes to increase the reach of the law that prevents the "propaganda of homosexuality" in the country. The European Union has pressed from its various institutions to Lithuania to respect the human rights of the LGBT community, but their demands have led to improvements in the situation of the country. Lithuanian activists have returned to ask the European Union, following the decision of worsening anti-gay measures in Lithuania, to act immediately to stop the spread of homophobia: "These legislative initiatives are totally unacceptable in the context of the Charter Fundamental Rights, which expressly prohibits any discrimination based on sexual orientation. We urge the Commission to intervene immediately to require compliance with the Treaty of Lisbon. "

16 May, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

Lithuania: National equality body draws a line between "LGB" and "T"

by Vytautas Valentinavicius
Recently the Human Rights Committee of the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) discussed the annual report (for 2010) of the office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman and the appeal by the Lithuanian Gay League to the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman ‘On implementation of Gender Recast Directive (2006/54/EC) with respect to transgender people.’

Vladimir Simonko, Chairman of the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL), noted that the deteriorating situation of LGBT people has not changed in Lithuania. ‘This was also confirmed by the Agency for Fundamental Rights in its conclusions about the situation in the country,’ Vladimir Simonko said at the meeting. In response to the opinions voiced by the Chairman of LGL, Aušrine Burneikiene, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman stated that ‘we may discuss the situation of homosexuals, but please note that the directive regarding trans people is only a guidance for Member States.’

According to Ms Burneikiene, the rights of homosexuals are worldwide treated separately from the problems of transsexuals: ‘If there are homosexual rights, there are problems in the case of trans people. Transsexuality is a disease,’ the main defender of equal opportunities in the country emphasised at the meeting. Vladimir Simonko pointed out that in one of the landmark cases the European Court of Justice clearly allocated a violation of trans people rights under EU gender equality legislation.

‘In Europe this issue is still pending, there is on-going discussion as to whether the issue of trans people can be attributed to the issues of gender equality. But what is quite clear now and what has been categorically stated, is that the problems of trans people cannot be put together with the rights of homosexuals,’ Ms Burneikiene stated. ‘Should we understand that there is nothing to be done in Lithuania on this issue?’ Dalia Kuodyte, openly surprised Member of the Committee, asked Equal Opportunities Ombudsman.

Gediminas Andriukaitis, Director of the Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights, summarised, ‘I can agree that rapid backward steps are being made in Lithuania in the area of human rights.’ ‘Assessing the report of the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman, I note that the same conclusions and recommendations have been made for the past three years,’ Mr. Andriukaitis said expressing disappointment with the work of the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman.

2011 June 20 – For LGBT Equality

From ban to protection
: sexual orientation discrimination prohibited in ads

Lithuanian Parliament responded to the call of LGL and other human rights groups to ensure that public information serves to enhance equality, tolerance and respect for human rights for all, including LGBT people and to scrap the discriminatory provision banning any manifestation of sexual orientation in TV and radio ads. The amended Article 39 of the Law on Provision of Information now states that advertising and audiovisual commercial communication must not prejudice respect for human dignity, discrimination or fostering of discrimination on grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation or ethnic origin, nationality, citizenship, religion or faith, disability, and age, neither must itbe offensive to religious or political beliefs, encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety, or behaviour largely detrimental to environmental protection.

During the heated debate at the plenary session of June 16 alternative amendments proposed by Petras Gražulis, Order and Justice MP who argued for not including in the law the prohibition to discriminate because of sexual orientation, were rejected.

“I have no intention of despising any person who has any vice, whether he is an alcoholic or a drug addict or a kleptomaniac or has any other problem a person may have. That’s a weak person. It’s not my right to condemn him, but to make him a hero and place him next to faith; well, I’m sorry”, Mr. Gražulis shouted from the Seimas stand as reported by Valentinas Stundys, who proposed the amendment to the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public that would prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, maintained that by proposing his amendments Mr. Gražulis was led by his emotions rather than by common sense. “Mr. Gražulis should not mislead the public and create waves of emotions, because it looks as if he failed to understand something and after noticing one word got frightened and simply started getting delirious. I reject all of his strange insinuations and encourage him to think by engaging what a man has best”, Mr. Stundys said.

A. Caplikas of the Liberal and Centre Union seconded him and added that he was starting to suspect that there was “something wrong” with Mr. Gražulis. “Someone fighting so hard against homosexuality presumably has issues of his own that he is afraid to confess. Well, I don’t know why, but that’s just the way it seems to me. This is a normal law, European and civilised, but a storm is being created in a teacup, invoking morality, the Church, and Christianity. I’m just scared by such people. I don’t believe them”, Mr. Caplikas said. Some parliamentarians clearly supported Mr. Gražulis’ side. They insisted that the prohibition of discrimination would prevent the expression of any opinion about homosexuality. “Sir, you wish to introduce the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. That’s really not the same. Sir, you are a literate person. Have you cleared your actions with your confessor? You’re evidently trying to deceive us. This is the first time I’ve seen such a cunning colleague”, Conservative Kazimieras Uoka retorted.

He agreed with the opinion that the prohibition of discrimination against sexual minorities would open the way to their propagation. “By removing the prohibition against encouraging manifestations of sexual orientation, you entrench in Lithuanian law the encouragement, implementation, and dissemination in the public space of sexual orientation, including sexual perversions”, Rimantas Smetona said, explaining how he understood the law would be adopted. Mr. Stundys retorted that encouragement is prohibited by another law, the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information. Prohibitions stipulated in this law are not restricted by the amendments to the Law on the Provision of Information to the Public adopted on June 16.

2011 June 29 – For LGBT Equality

Harassment on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation widespread in universities

Harassment on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation is the most widely spread type of harassment both among students and lecturers. These results were revealed by the study entitled ‘Multiple discrimination in higher education’ conducted upon the initiative of the Lithuanian Union of Students with support of Dutch Embassy in Vilnius. Students of 20 universities and 19 colleges of Lithuania participated in the study. The results of the study represent the opinion of 182,081 students.

The newest results of the study revealed that between 39.4 and 76.8 per cent of students attending institutions of higher education constantly experience discriminatory harassment. Most often it is harassment on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation. Between 12.9 and 49.9 per cent of the respondents said they heard lecturers tell insulting jokes. Most often lecturers make derisive remarks about women (49.9 per cent). There were no statistically significant differences between the responses of students studying for a bachelor’s degree and those studying for a master’s degree.

‘The fact that discriminatory harassment is widely spread both among students and among lecturers once again proves that stereotypes related to gender and sexual orientation, including homophobic attitudes, are deeply rooted in the academic society. The fact that both master and bachelor students share the same attitudes towards variety shows that institutions of higher education in essence have no influence on the formation of cultural values’, – says Vytautas Valentinavicius, the Social Integration Coordinator of the Lithuanian Union of Students. Students perceive sexism as a normal phenomenon while humiliating environment is perceived by them as something acceptable rather than discriminatory. The revealed situation proves that a systematic education of the academic society is lacking.

According to Vytautas Valentinavicius, the most effective way to reduce discrimination in higher education is the universal education of the academic society representing higher education, including the formation of respective values and continuous analysis of the situation. It is noteworthy that the respondents also had their say on the establishment of special commissions at the institutions of higher education that would monitor the overall situation and deal with the (feasible) complaints regarding discriminatory situations. For a more detailed summary of the survey in English, please visit the link.

2011 July 01 – For LGBT Equality

Meeting with the representatives of the US State Department at the LGBT centre in Vilnius

On 1 July 2011 representatives of the Lithuanian organisations active in the area of human rights gathered for a meeting with the representatives of the US State Department including Mike Posner, Assistant Secretary to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and his deputies Daniel Baer and Thomas Melia. At the meeting, which took place at the nation’s only LGBT community centre in Vilnius, issues related to human rights and the problems that homosexual and transgender people experience in Lithuania were discussed. The participants of the meeting named a number of problems that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) community faces in the country. Head of the Lithuanian Gay League Vladimir Simonko thanked the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her strong support for human rights defenders and the attention devoted to the LGBT communities worldwide.

The guests showed interest in the activities undertaken by the organisations that participated in the meeting, including parliamentary initiatives and the work of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and the Office of Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson. The meeting was attended by the Member of Parliament Marija Aušrine Pavilioniene, representatives of the Lithuanian Gay League, the Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights and the Tolerant Youth.

For more photos please click here.

2011 July 11 – For LGBT Equlity

MEPs welcome Lithuania’s new progressive law on advertising

A new Law on the Provision of Information to the Public came into force on 30 June, outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Previous drafts of the law had included a ban on mentioning homosexuality, but the Lithuanian Parliament made a volte-face and rejected these proposals. The draft text examined earlier in the Lithuanian Seimas stated that “any advertisement or a commercial audiovisual […] may not depict or promote a sexual orientation”*. Although the wording encompassed all sexual orientations, it was understood to target homosexuality.

The law adopted establishes that “advertising and audiovisual commercial communications must not publish information that humiliates human dignity, discriminating or encouraging discrimination based on […] sexual orientation”*. The Lithuanian Gay League reports that this sharp turnaround was led by Member of the Seimas Valentinas Stundys and Deputy Speaker of the Seimas Algis Caplikas. Welcoming recent developments, Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, reacted: “We are extremely happy to see that our colleagues in the Seimas made the right choice by standing up to unfounded bigotry and fear. The claims put forward by Mr Gražulis and his few allies are motivated by dubious morals, and the Seimas saw clear in this game. Lithuania can be proud that it upheld modern values, shared across the EU and the world.”

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “This is a powerful message sent by Lithuania’s legislature, both to its people and to the rest of the EU. However, we remain concerned that the Law on the Protection of Minors from the Detrimental Effects of Public Information is still in place, and that a ban of gender reassignment surgery was recently proposed. We call on our fellow law-makers in Vilnius to act responsibly and coherently by striking down existing discriminatory laws, and adopting new ones that protect everyone’s human rights—including LGBT people, adults and children.” The European Parliament adopted a resolution in January 2011, calling on the Seimas to refrain from enacting discriminatory laws and “clarify the meaning of the ban in the Law on Advertising” in relation to sexual orientation.

2011 July 13 – For LGBT Equality

Kids are openly taught to despise gay people

by Joanna Labecka
A short story about dissemination of discrimination-inducing opinions against homosexuals during a religion lesson in a Lithuanian school You might have had some thoughts why homophobic attitude is so omnipresent in Lithuanian society. Is this a merit of ‘traditional values’ or maybe the influence of the widespread political discourse soaked through by hate speech? There are many reasons why the Lithuanian LGBT rights defenders have their hands full. Some of the causes might never be challenged but that the pure coincidence will make them see the light of day. Because some actions targeted at disseminating hateful and discriminative statements are taken behind closed doors. The doors of the classrooms.

Would you like to know where the homophobia comes from? Imagine a Lithuanian religion lesson where children should explore the meaning of brotherly love. But the subject of today’s lesson is homosexuality and the teacher is planning to pour into pupils’ hearts and minds something that absolutely doesn’t resemble the feeling of love. The children are supposed to write down everything that appears on the blackboard. Just in case they might forget something. So we have a problem tree here. The problem is obviously homosexuality. The other branches of the tree are causes and consequences of the problem. The teacher decides to start with the consequences. Maybe because the list of them is much longer and dived into anthropological and religious contexts. The pupils discover that society spurns homosexual individuals because these persons deny such virtues as honor, love or forgiveness and inflict moral detriment on others. Sexual freedom increases, which refutes traditional morals.

The teacher coveys the information that homosexuals have (implicitly – only) temporary sexual partners. It causes spiritual and psychological suffering because deeply-embedded needs as well as those for affective love cannot be satisfied. Homosexual individuals are turned into objects of exploitation and means to satisfy the prurience of others. The mental problems of homosexual persons include also inferiority complex since gay people are unable to accept their sexuality. Sexual relationships between individuals of the same sex are unnatural. They are not able to procreate and have children. Homosexuality is also the cause of HIV and AIDS. The plague of same-sex relationships entail destroying families, losing jobs and God Almighty knows what else. “Normal” men and women instill fear in homosexual people and it is really difficult for a gay person to build a positive, encouraging and simultaneously non-erotic camaraderie with others. Children, we are done with the consequences of homosexuality in the anthropological context. Let’s move to religious one then. Homosexuality is nothing more but a sin and debauchery. It’s negating the teaching of Holy Scripture and the Church and ignoring the divine plan where natural relationships are heterosexual, and let’s make it clear – homosexual relationships are promiscuous by nature!

Now when we all know what kind of detrimental effect the homosexuality has on us, our society and the whole world we should take a look at the aspects which are the cause of homosexuality. One of the reasons may be a fact that a gay person was deprived of parental love and care during adolescence and that is why this person feels complete during sexual contact. Another menace is the homosexual propaganda presenting a lifestyle of homosexual practice. Not to forget a certain way of expression for groups engaged in bohemian living and artistic activities. The artists – always looking for new experiences! And last but not least: financial aid from certain international organisations allegedly protecting human rights also promotes homosexuality. So be aware!

It would be nice to think that the narrative is just the product of author’s wild imagination. Well, it is not. It is based on the true story. And it wouldn’t see the light of day if one concerned parent wouldn’t have noticed the notes taken by his child during the religion lesson. School – a place where teachers should be role models, serving as a positive example for their pupils whose minds are open and tractable. School – a place where pupils are so prone to intercepting ideas and opinions of others while developing their own outlook on life. School – a place where discrimination may find very favorable conditions.

2011 July 18 – For LGBT Equality

First LGBT film festival ‘Kitoks Kinas’ (Diverse Cinema) kicks off

LGBT film festival ‘Kitoks Kinas’ will take place in Vilnius and Kaunas from 25 – 31 August this year. It is the first ever LGBT film festival organised in Lithuania. Diverse movies event launched a new website for the interest of the wide audiences it welcomes. “There you will find not only the synopsis of the films that LGBT festival is going to screen but also reviews by film critics ”, – explained the initiator and director of the festival Vytautas Valentinavicius. “After successful LGBT film programme, which was shown last year during the Baltic Pride in Vilnius, it is delightful to host a bigger and culturally diverse follow up event this year” – said the chair of Lithuanian Gay League Vladimir Simonko.

Finally, after some hurdle LGBT film festival moved to cinema theatres ‘Pasaka’ in Vilnius and ‘Cinamonas’ in Kaunas. “I am so happy we have facilities to screen LGBT films, however we are open to have some screenings in the municipal centre ‘Skalvija’ as well if we will be welcomed by Vilnius municipality, of course” – further explained Vytautas Valentinavicius. On 25th of August – the opening night of the festival – the Tomer Heymann’s film ‘I shot my love’ will be proudly screened. The documentary tells a personal but universal love story and follows the triangular relationship between Tomer, his German boyfriend, and his intense Israeli mother. The director of this film will be present at the opening of the festival to introduce the movie.

The first LGBT film festival ‘Kitoks kinas’ is organised by Equal Rights & Social Development Centre in collaboration with Lithuanian Gay League and with kind support of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Vilnius as well as other sponsors. For more detailed information about the programme of the festival, please visit

2011 September 16 – For LGBT Equality

Harsh LGBT rights restrictions to be considered by Lithuanian lawmakers

On 15 September 2011 the Lithuanian Parliament adopted its autumn agenda, preparing to debate on two legislative amendments openly violating the LGBT rights as well as the international commitments to uphold freedom of expression and to fight discrimination.

The first amendment submitted by Petras Gražulis and accepted by the parliamentarians for consideration is a new Article 214(30) in the Administrative Code entitled “Protection of constitutional moral values”. It states that “the public denigration of constitutional moral values and the principles of family stipulated in the Constitution and the organization of events contradicting social morality” should be a subject to a penalty from 1000 to 3000 LTL. If the actions mentioned above are committed repeatedly, the fine amounts to 3000 – 6000 LTL (870 – 1740 EUR). The proposal is a new version of the amendments submitted by Mr. Gražulis repetitively and aiming at criminalization of a very wide variety of actions and activities e.g. campaigning on human rights issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, providing sexual health information to LGBT individuals, organization of LGBT film festivals, Pride events etc.

The second proposal submitted by Antanas Matulas, Vida Marija Cigriejiene and Arimantas Dumcius is an amendment to the Civil Code aiming at the prohibition of gender reassignment surgery. At present, the Civil Code provides that an unmarried adult is entitled to undergo gender reassignment surgery if it is possible medically, while the conditions and procedure of gender reassignment are set by legislation. However, no such legislation has been passed. In 2007 Lithuania lost a case in the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right of a transsexual person to gender reassignment. The MPs who submitted the controversial legislative initiative stated that the amendment would protect Lithuania from any claims at the ECHR in the future.

The proposed amendments need to go through two further stages of the Lithuanian legal procedure. The first is for the Committees and Commissions to deliberate over these legislative initiatives. If this stage is successful, the final step will be a vote of the MPs regarding the adoption of these amendments.