Lithuania: Parliament Enacts Homophobic Censorship Law

(New York, July 15, 2009)- The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) condemns the Lithuanian Parliament’s adoption of the homophobic “Law on the Protection of Minors Against Detrimental Effect of Public Information,” on July 14, 2009. The new law outlaws the distribution of information about sexual orientation through any medium to which children have access.

“Lithuania has taken a huge step backward for human rights by enacting this law,” said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “Not only does it stifle the free expression of all people, but it could actively prevent children from getting a comprehensive and accurate sexual education, which is vital to their health and lives.”

The new law prohibits information relating to lesbian, gay and bisexual people from being distributed to the public and may prevent the discussion of these issues in schools. It codifies discrimination based on sexual orientation, while also denying freedom of expression and inhibiting children’s rights to education, information, health, and life under international and European law.

Parliament first passed the new law on June 16, 2009. On June 26, the Lithuanian President rejected the legislation, referring it back to Parliament for reconsideration. However, the bill was finally approved by an 87-6 vote, with 25 abstentions. It will enter into force in March 2010.

IGLHRC has repeatedly called for the rejection of this law, first writing to the Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament, Arūnas Valinskas, and the Minister of Education and Science, Gintaras Steponavicius, on June 10th asking them to advocate for the law’s rejection. Then IGLHRC wrote to now-former President Valdas Adamkus on June 17th, asking him to refer the law back to the Parliament with instructions to remove its homophobic provisions. Finally, IGLHRC wrote to the Speaker and Minister of Education and Science again on July 10th, renewing the call to reject this homophobic law.

Lithuania decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, but has a recent history of banning gay pride events.

Read IGLHRC’s letters to Lithuanian authorities here and read the official English translation of the new law here.

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The mission of The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is advancing human rights for everyone, everywhere to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org for more information