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September 10, 2009

Lithuania moves to criminalize discussion about homosexuality

Decades of life under Soviet oppression gave Lithuanians a deep yearning for freedom and self-determination.  But in Lithuania, that respect for freedom and individual rights does not extend to gays and lesbians.  Or perhaps life under the jackboot somehow creates a taste for oppressing others. 

As Amnesty International reports, as the rest of the world is moving away from criminal prohibitions on sodomy and toward greater openness about homosexuality, "the Lithuanian parliament prepares to debate during its autumn session legislative amendments that would criminalise the 'promotion of homosexual relations in public places.'" 

This isn't about public sex.  Rather, according to AI, the proposals "would permit the prosecution of an extremely wide variety of activities, including campaigning on human rights issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, providing sexual health information to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people or the organization of gay film festivals, or Pride events." 

The proposed amendments follow the adoption in July this year of the discriminatory "Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information". This law bans materials that "agitate for homosexual, bisexual and polygamous relations" from schools or public places and media where they could be viewed by children. The new amendments go even further as they would potentially criminalise almost any public expression or portrayal of, or information about, homosexuality.  

The amendments would effectively prevent LGBT people from accessing the appropriate information, support and protection to enable them to live with their sexual orientation and gender identity. They are also likely to lead to increased discrimination and other human rights abuses, in a range of areas, including employment and the access to goods and services.

"Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the Lithuanian parliament is turning the clock back by imposing draconian limitations on the flow of information and the freedom of expression and stigmatising part of the population," [AI Europe and Central Asia Programme Director] Nicola Duckworth said. 

-SS

September 10, 2009 | Permalink

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