Lithuania: 'Clause 28' made law in backwards move on Gay rights

Amnesty International today condemned the Lithuanian parliament for passing a new law which bans the discussion of homosexuality in schools and prohibits any reference to it in public information which can be viewed by Children's rights.

The law, entitled the ‘Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information’, was passed on Tuesday (16 June) and is similar to ‘Clause 28’ which institutionalised homophobia in the UK for 15 years (1988-2003).

The new law classes homosexuality alongside issues such as the portrayal of physical or psychological violence, the display of a dead or cruelly mutilated body of a person, and information that arouses fear or horror, or encourages self-mutilation or suicide. Of the 74 Parliamentarians who voted on Tuesday, 67 voted in favour of the new law.

Amnesty International condemned the vote, saying that the new law institutionalises homophobia and violates the right to freedom of expression and the right to be free from discrimination.

Nicola Duckworth, Europe Director at Amnesty International, said:

"By passing this bill, the Lithuanian Parliament has reinforced discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation.

"The amendment denies the right to freedom of expression and deprives students of access to the support and protection they may need."

The new law is part of a growing climate of intimidation and discrimination in Lithuania against lesbians, gay men and bisexual and transgender people.

An EU initiative, the "For Diversity, Against Discrimination" touring truck, was banned in Vilnius and Kaunas on 20 August 2008. The Mayor of Kaunas said that "[the] homosexual festival may cause many negative emotions."

The new law goes against the joint statement that Lithuania signed at the UN General Assembly in December 2008, which reaffirmed that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

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