EU parliament condemns Lithuanian anti-gay law
17.09.09 @ 20:51
BRUSSELS - A Lithuanian law banning discussion of homosexuality from schools and that could restrict publication of gay and lesbian magazines and proscribe pride marches has been condemned by the European Parliament.
A firm but not overwhelming cross-party majority adopted a resolution criticising the Baltic country's new "Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information" that suppresses the publication any information related to homosexuality and bisexuality.
The bill, which goes into force in March next year, covers all manner of outlets such as websites, exhibitions, demonstrations and other public events if they can be accessed by children.
A European Commission legal analysis of the bill says that its wording is sufficiently broad that it effectively outlaws gay literature as well as barring mention of homosexuality in schools.
In recent months, the Lithuanian parliament has been considering amendments to the bill that further would further undermine the fundamental rights of gays and lesbians.
In July, in a first reading of the bill, Lithuanian MPs from all parties managed to approve an amendment that would criminalise the "promotion of homosexual relations in public places."
Evelyn Paradis, of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), told EUobserver that her organisation welcomes the resolution.
"We're happy that it was proposed by a cross-party group of MEPs, even if many conservatives opposed the motion, and that it calls for concrete measures to be taken against the law by the European institutions," she said.
A total of 349 deputies voted in favour of the resolution, with 218 against and 46 abstaining.
UK Green MEP Jean Lambert, a co-signatory to the resolution said: "The European Parliament has sent a clear message to the Lithuanian government that homophobia has no place in the European Union - not in its society and certainly not enshrined in any of its legislation.
"This law contravenes the EU Treaties, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, and should be urgently repealed on these grounds."
On Tuesday in the parliament, EU justice commissioner Jacques Barrot told MEPs that the European Commission had issued its concerns about the bill to the Lithuanian government.
In July, Lithuania's newly elected president and former European commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite said that human rights were an issue close to her heart, but that she had no choice but to follow Lithuania's constitution and sign the law.
"But I will make use of the right I have to propose changes to the law to make it compatible with basic human rights," she added.
A working group was set up by Ms Grybauskaite to review the law.