Activists Appeal to President and Others Over Proposed Anti-Gay Measure Now With Seimas

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Lithuanian human rights activists have today written to President Dalia Grybauskaite asking that she publicly expresses an opinion on the proposed amendments to the Administrative Code which seeks to restrict human rights and foster discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Through her press spokesman, President Grybauskaite said later that that draft legislation is making the country look bad, the Lithuanian news Website Alfa, reported.

Similar letters have also been sent to the Speaker of the Seimas (Parliament) Irena Degutiene, Legal Committee chair Stasys Šedbaras, the Human Rights Committee chair Arminas Lydeka and the chair of the temporary parliamentary group “For Equality” Marija Aušrine Pavilioniene.

“We would like to draw your attention to the fact that on 12 November, 2010 the Parliament of Lithuania voted in favour of to precede with the proposed amendments no XIP-2595,” the letters say.

“It is clear that the amendments proposing punishment for ‘public promotion of homosexual relations’ do not guarantee democracy in Lithuania and will establish a precedent for violations of human rights,” The human rights activists write.

They go on to note that the “draft amendment is contrary to Article 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania which says that ‘the human being must not be hindered from seeking, receiving and imparting information and ideas’ and Article 29 which states that ‘all persons shall be equal before the law, the court, and other State institutions and officials. The rights of the human being may not be restricted, nor may he be granted any privileges on the ground of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions, or views’.

Commenting on the bill, the European Commissioner Viviane Reding said the European Commission strongly rejects homophobia, which is a violation of human dignity and is incompatible with EU values.

The Commissioner also noted that the Commission is aware of the reading of the draft amendments and will analyse its compatibility with EU law. On the basis of this analysis, the Commission will consider what further actions should be taken.

Mrs. Reding was visiting Vilnius today and among the pre-arranged meeting was on with the President, herself a fort European Commissioner. Mrs Reding was asked last week by the ALDE group in the European Parliament to raise the matters with officials during her visit.

The appeal sent today was signed by Vladimir Simonko, chairman of the board of the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL); Virginia Aleksej?n?, director of Equal Opportunities Development Centre; Gediminas Andriukaitis, director of Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights; Svetlana Kulšis, chair of Association for HIV / AIDS affected women and their families; Neringa Jur?iukonyt?, director of the National Institute for Social Inclusion; Vytautas Valentinavi?ius, director of Equal Rights and Social Development Centre; Art?ras Rudomanskis, chairman of board of Tolerant Youth Association, New Left (NK95); DEMOS Institute of Critical Thought; Daiva Dovyd?, Marijampol? district Women’s Home – Crisis Centre; Marijampol? district Woman’s Activity Centre; and Jurgis Andriuška, president of the Positive Life Association.

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