Gay Rights: Call on Lithuanian parliament to reject homophobic 'Section 28' bill

Stonewall warns of repeating ‘tragedy’ of Section 28

Amnesty International is calling on members of Lithuania’s parliament to reject a bill that would introduce “Section 28”-style measures in the Baltic state.

Tomorrow (14 July) the Lithuanian parliament (the Seimas) is set to consider a highly controversial law which would ban from Lithuanian schools and public places materials that “agitate for homosexual, bisexual and polygamous relations”.

On 16 June the “Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information” was passed by the Lithuanian parliament, but earlier this week (7 July) the parliament voted to reconsider the legislation after the country’s president, Valdas Adamkus, vetoed the law at the end of last month. The fear is that the parliament will again vote the bill through - overturning the presidential veto.

Campaigners for LGBTI equality, including Amnesty International and Stonewall, have denounced the measures as a clear infringement of freedom of expression and non-discrimination, and see the law as an echo of the notorious Section 28 provisions introduced in the United Kingdom in the 1980s.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“It would be a deeply retrograde step if the Lithuanian parliament supports these flagrantly discriminatory measures. A retrograde step for LGBT people in Lithuania, and a retrograde step for this emerging Baltic country.

“The Seimas should learn the lesson of Britain’s disastrous experience over Section 28 and reject these hateful homophobic measures out of hand.”

Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said:

“By stigmatising gay people as it did, Section 28 did significant and lasting damage to countless thousands of young people in this country. It would be deeply worrying if a similar tragedy were perpetrated in Lithuania in 2009.”

Amnesty International has launched an “urgent action” campaign ( www.amnesty.org.uk/lgbt ) and its supporters are contacting the Speaker of the Lithuanian parliament urging him to ensure that any legislation in the country guarantees freedom of expression without discrimination. Amnesty supporters are also contacting the Lithuanian Committee on Education, Science and Culture, and the country’s Committee on Human Rights.

Amnesty has been particularly active in defending LGBT rights in the Baltic region in recent years and for the past three years the organisation has supported local groups in defying homophobic threats during the staging of “Pride” events in Riga, Latvia.

Call on Lithuania's parliament to reject this homophobic law. /b>

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