Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
On 21 May, the mayor of Vilnius, Juozas Imbrasas, refused permission for a European Union (EU) sponsored anti-discrimination truck tour to make its planned stop in the city. The truck tour visited 19 member states as part of a “For Diversity. Against Discrimination” information campaign. The purpose of the truck tour was to raise awareness and distribute information about the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. The Vilnius City Council also voted unanimously to ban a tolerance campaign rally in support of the human rights of various groups, including LGBT people, which had been due to take place on 25 May, citing “security reasons”. The European Commission commented on the bans stating that “the decision by the city authorities shows how much still needs to be done to change behaviour and attitudes towards discriminated groups and to promote awareness of diversity.”
The mayor of Vilnius also supported local bus drivers’ refusal to drive buses which had advertisements supporting LGBT rights on them. The mayor stated that “with priority for traditional family and seeking to promote the family values, we disapprove [of] the public display of ‘homosexual ideas’ in the city of Vilnius”. The advertisement had been paid for by the Lithuanian Gay League with money granted from the EU.
On 24 October, Vilnius city council refused to grant permission for a public event which would have seen the hoisting of a 30m rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBT rights movement, in front of approximately 200 LGBT activists in the Town Hall Square.
The Lithuanian parliament was considering legislation that would ban the “propagation of homosexuality” to children. The legislative change regarded an amendment to the existing Law on the Protection of Minors against Detrimental Effect of Public Information. The proposed amendment would put information about homosexuality on par with the portrayal of physical or psychological violence or vandalism; display of a dead or cruelly mutilated body of a person and information that arouses fear or horror, encourages self-mutilation or suicide. The authors of the proposed amendment explained that “the propagation of a non-traditional sexual orientation and exposure to information containing positive coverage of homosexual relations may therefore cause negative consequences for the physical, mental and, first and foremost, moral development of minors”.
On 9 June, the European football governing body UEFA imposed a 15,000 Swiss francs fine on the Lithuanian football federation for fans waving a racist poster during the European qualifier against France on 24 March. Fans had drawn the African continent in outline with the French flag superimposed. Beneath it was written “Welcome to Europe”.