Lithuania: Proposed Amendments to Criminal and Administrative Codes are Discriminatory

Amendments proposed to the Criminal Code (XIP-668(2)) and the Administrative Code (XIP-667(2)) of Lithuania were approved by Parliament at their first reading on July 9, 2009 at the plenary session. Forty-two MPs were in favor, 8 were against and 16 abstained. After this initial approval the amendments were sent to the committees for consideration. They are now under consideration at the Committee on Legal Affairs and will be later discussed in the Committee on Human Rights.

On August 31, 2009, IGLHRC sent a letter to the chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Mr. Stasys Šedbaras asking him to ensure that these amendments are not adopted because they will violate the human rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and to equality and non-discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their defenders in Lithuania under European and international law.

These amendments make a criminal offense of and establish serious penalties for ‘promoting homosexual relations’ in a public place or funding such endeavors. This vague and leading language does not exclude any public expression or actions taken to protect or promote the human rights of LGBT people and criminalizes truthful discussions of human sexuality.

On July 14, 2009, the Lithuanian Parliament overrode the President's veto of the "Law on the Protection of Minors Against Detrimental Effect of Public Information." The new law outlaws the distribution of information about sexual orientation through any medium to which children have access. 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. For more information click here.