President Valdas Adamkus should veto a proposed law passed by Lithuania's parliament that would ban references to gay, lesbian, and bisexual relations in public places, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the president.
The Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information would ban all materials that agitate for homosexual, bisexual and polygamous relations from schools or other public places where they can be
seen by youth, on the grounds that they have a detrimental effect on the development of minors. Lithuania's Seimas (Parliament) passed the law on June 16, 2009, by a vote of 67 of the 74 members of parliament present and sent it to
the president, who has 10 days to decide whether to sign or veto it.
What were the lawmakers thinking when they passed this homophobic law? said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Program at Human Rights Watch: Depriving young people of information
they need to decide about their lives and protect their health is a regressive and dangerous move, and amounts to censorship.
Lithuania is a member of the European Union, which is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. The country is also a member of the Council of Europe, and in 1995
ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Article 10 of the convention states that: Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include the freedom to hold opinions and
to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
The President of Lithuania has vetoed a new law that would have banned materials that agitate for gay relationships from schools.
Human Rights Watch said sources in the eastern European country had confirmed that President Adamkus vetoed the Law on Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information.
The country's parliament has the option of over-riding the Presidential veto.
It is my duty as an elected member of the European Parliament to act strongly against grave attempts to diminish human rights of EU citizens, said Michael Cashman, president of the European Parliament's all-party Intergroup on LGBT rights:
This new law is a spit in the face of the European values. To limit freedom of expression based on homophobia is a clear breach of EU's fundamental rights and principles.
The Lithuanian parliament will vote next week on whether to overturn a Presidential veto on a discriminatory law that institutionalizes homophobia.
President Valdas Adamkus vetoed the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information , which violates the right to freedom of expression and the right to be free from discrimination, on 26 June.
The wide-ranging censorship law had been passed by the Lithuanian Parliament (the Seimas) on 16 June. It was widely criticized for its discriminatory restrictions on public information on homosexuality.
On 7 July, a large majority of parliamentarians voted to reconsider the bill. On 14 July, the Seimas will decide whether to overturn the Presidential veto. If the veto is overturned, the bill will become law.
Lithuanian lawmakers revised a controversial law on that banned the promotion of homosexuality, but gay rights campaigners warned the move did nothing to assuage their concerns.
In a 58-4 vote, with 25 abstentions, parliament approved amendments to legislation that sparked criticism from rights groups in Lithuania and abroad when it was passed in July.
The original law, which had been due to come into force in March 2010, barred the public dissemination of information favourable to homosexuality, claiming it could harm the mental health and physical, intellectual and moral development of
The legislation -- which also covered bisexuality, polygamy, images of heterosexual intercourse, death and severe injury, the paranormal, foul language and bad eating habits -- did not specifically define public dissemination nor set down a
The changes give the law a less-specific remit, banning information encouraging the sexual abuse of minors, sexual relations between minors and other sexual relations.
The homophobic clauses have been removed. The law is in line with European standards, her spokesman Linas Balsys told AFP Tuesday.
But Vladimir Simonko, head of the Lithuanian Gay League, said problems remained with the legislation and alleged it had been crafted by a bunch of Bible-bashers.
Amnesty International has called on the authorities of Lithuania to remove all restrictions on the distribution of public information relating to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people decreed in a new law.
The controversial Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information enters into force 1 March.
This law will violate the freedom of expression and will directly discriminate against people on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity, said John Dalhuisen, expert on discrimination at Amnesty International.
It will stigmatize gay and lesbian people and exposes advocates for their rights to the risk of censorship and financial penalties.
This law is an anachronism in the European Union.
The new law now classifies any information which denigrates family values or which encourages a concept of marriage and family other than stipulated in the Constitution and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania as
detrimental to children and consequently bans it from places accessible to them.
As marriage is defined in Lithuanian law as the union of a man and a woman, any public promotion of same-sex partnerships, or advocacy for equality in marriage, would be prohibited under the new law.
The European Parliament has called on Lithuania's Parliament to reject a proposed law that would punish public promotion of homosexual relations with a fine of up to $3,900.
The Euro Parliament also called on Lithuania to review existing laws that ban gay information from any place where a minor could possibly see it, censor mentions of sexual orientation in advertising, and exclude gay protections from the nation's
educational equal-opportunity policy.
Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: We need to educate people -- including children and youth -- about the different forms of sexuality that have always existed in every culture,
everywhere in the world, including in Lithuania. Hiding facts from young people generates fearful attitudes, prejudice and hate, something Europeans stand united against.