Anti-Gay law takes effect in Lithuania
 

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posted Friday, March 5, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 10

Anti-Gay law takes effect in Lithuania
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A controversial anti-Gay law took effect March 1 in the Baltic nation of Lithuania, sparking speculation that the European Union may intervene to force repeal.

According to reports, the law forbids "minors" from receiving any information about any type of sexual relationship, and seeks to protect the "traditional" concept of family defined by the Lithuanian Constitution as a union between a man and a woman.

An earlier draft of the law expressly prohibited "the propaganda of homosexuality and Bisexuality" to minors.

That version was condemned by the European Parliament in September 2009, and Lithuanian lawmakers revised the text.

Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004, and is bound by all its membership stipulations, including the European Convention on Human Rights.

Michael Cashman, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and co-president of the EU's Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said that the latest version of the law is marginally better than earlier drafts.

"Nevertheless," Cashman warned, "the European Union will not let a Member State restrict its citizens' fundamental rights. Lithuanian people, including young people, are the victims of parliamentarians' outdated fears: what they need is access to information on the society and family of the 21st century."

"What we need to promote is honesty about all forms of loving relationships," he added.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, the other co-president of the Intergroup, said that she was happy there is no longer any explicit mention of homosexuality in the law.

"But referring to the traditional concept of family is also problematic," she said, "not just because it refers only to a couple made up of a man and a woman, but also because male domestic violence against women and children has been a taboo in traditional concepts of family."

"Young people in Lithuania need information about modern concepts of partnership and family."

Both MEPs pledged that the European Parliament and the European Commission will monitor application of the law and its effects on the fundamental rights of Lithuanian citizens including minors.

Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, will be the site of the annual Baltic Pride celebration on May 7 and 8. Previous attempts to hold Pride celebrations in Lithuania were banned by authorities.

Eduardos Latovas of the Lithuania Gay League told IPS news service, "Even though we have equality bodies and similar organizations, the public attitudes here are generally very homophobic."

"The Catholic Church here promotes traditional family values when it comes to sexual orientation, while there is a very dominant media group called Respublica which has newspapers which preach homophobia. They refer to homosexuals as 'perverts,' and there is no public opposition at all to this, nor any punishment from authorities for the publication," Latovas said.



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