MEP Hits Out at Proposed Anti-Gay Legislation in Lithuania

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Lithuania is effectively making homosexuality illegal, an MEP said this morning.

Sophie In’t Veld, a Dutch MEP from who sits with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament and is a vice president of the Parliament’s all-party ‘Intergroup’ for LGBT rights, told UK Gay News that urgent consideration is being given as to how to approach the matter of the proposed amendment of the Lithuanian Code of Administrative Violations that would make “the promotion of homosexuality” an offence punishable by fine of 2,000 to 10,000 litas (£500 to £2,500) that passed its first vote in the Seimas last Friday in the European Parliament.

“Lithuania is effectively making homosexuality illegal,” she said. “I would say the European Commission must look into the latest developments in Lithuania and urgently inform Parliament if the proposed amendments are in line with EU law.

“The Commission does not hesitate to impose billion euro fines in the case of illegal cartels – it should be even more determined when it comes to fundamental rights violations.

“We will consider if we will ask [Commissioner Viviane] Reding for an oral statement, or submit a Parliamentary Question,” Ms. In’t Veld said.

This afternoon, the ALDE group in the European Parliament wrote an urgent letter to Ms. Reding, the Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship at the European Commission.

In the letter, which was signed by ALDE group president Guy Verhofstast MEP and seven others, including Lithuanian MEP Leonidas Donskis, requests that Ms. Reding takes-up the matter with the Lithuanian authorities during a scheduled visit later this week.

The letter asks her to express the firm opposition of the European Union on the “draft amendments violating freedom of expression and constituting a discrimination based on sexual orientation”.

“As you will recall the European Parliament – as well as the Commission – harshly criticised the Law [of the Protection of Minors Against Detrimental Public Information]. The Lithuanian authorities decided to modify it in a way to neutralise it in practice, but here we are now with fines to make it effective,” the letter continues.

“We are sure that you will agree with us that this amendment is not compatible with European values as enshrined in the ECHR and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and that Lithuanian authorities should not adopt it.

“We consequently ask you to follow this up with the Lithuanian authorities and inform the [European Parliament] as soon as possible on the situation in Lithuania in relation to this law,” the letter concludes.