Lithuania's parliament will vote Thursday on legislation that would impose a fine on those found guilty of "contempt" of "moral values" enshrined in the country's constitution.
The Lithuanian Gay League describes the proposal as a "Russian style anti-gay 'propaganda law.'" But Lithuania already has a law specifically prohibiting information that "denigrates family values" or "encourages a concept of marriage and family other than stipulated in the Constitution… and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania" that has been on the books since 2009. (The legislation previously prohibited the promotion of "homosexual, bisexual or polygamous relations" but that was changed under pressure from the European Union, of which Lithuania is a member.)
The new proposal specifically prohibits speeches, posters, audiovisual materials, and other means of organizing in support of LGBT rights. In a memorandum justifying the bill, its sponsor, lawmaker Petras Gražulis specifies that it targets "events such as gay pride march and parades." It would impose a fine of up to the equivalent of about $2400 for those found guilty of repeat offenses.
The proposal is one of several bills targeting LGBT people that are pending before parliament in the coming months, including an explicit ban on adoptions by same-sex couples and the outlawing of gender reassignment surgery.
These measures were introduced in "retaliation" for the organizing of a Baltic March for Equality in Vilnius in July of 2013, while the country held the presidency of the European Union, said Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, project coordinator for the Lithuanian Gay League.
"Because of European pressure, we managed to have pride go down our center of our capital city," he said. "Homophobes were really frustrated because they could not stop it."
J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211
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