Lithuanian Pride Marked By Protests
May 8th, 2010
About 400 people participating in Lithuania’s first Pride observance in downtown Vilnius were met with more than 1,000 rock- and smokebomb-throwing protesters and were protected by 800 police. Nineteen people were detained, including two anti-gay lawmakers. A Russian-language news report says that a march along the Neris river was cut short due to the violence. A Molotov cocktail was also thrown Molotov cocktail was thrown into the offices of Youth for Tolerance, which helped organize the event. The bomb failed to ignite and no one was injured.
It was the first Gay Pride event in Lithuania, a largely Catholic nation of 3.4 million people that acquired independence from the Soviet Union two decades ago. The parade was originally authorized by the Vilnius city council, but was was prohibited Wednesday by a court. An appeals court on Friday overturned the ban.
Update (May 10): We heard from Kate at Amnesty International, whose account differs from early news reports:
I’m based at Amnesty International’s International Secretariat and was at Baltic Pride on Saturday. Just a couple of corrections — the march wasn’t cut short (and trouble from the counter-demonstrators didn’t really happen until the end of the march when most of the participants had left the site) and the Tolerant Youth Association had its windows broken that morning but there were no molotov cocktails. We reckon we had about 500 people on the march and it was a huge success. More info will be available here and participants are sending in their info via the Baltic Pride facebook page here.
Lithuania Pride tomorrow
May 7th, 2010
After the usual roadblocks and lawsuits, the Lithuanian high court has determined that gay people can assemble tomorrow. (It had been banned under the argument, “if I let you march, it will incite people to try and kill you”)
We should expect that, as usual, the good holy moral and deeply devout Catholics of the fine godly nation will show their true Christian spirit and will try and hurt, maim, denounce, or pelt the participants with rotten food or excrement. Lithuania is a strongly Catholic country and they tend to share the current Pope’s attitudes about religious freedom, human rights, and personal dignity.
Lithuania weakens anti-gay law
December 23rd, 2009
The Baltic state of Lithuania appears to be backing away a bit from previous anti-gay legislation. (Agence France-Presse)
In a 58-4 vote, with 25 abstentions, parliament approved amendments to legislation that sparked criticism from rights groups in Lithuania and abroad when it was passed in July.
The original law, which had been due to come into force in March 2010, barred the “public dissemination” of information favourable to homosexuality, claiming it could harm the mental health and physical, intellectual and moral development of minors.
Lithuania had been experiencing some image problems from other Europeans due to their position. This was causing some difficulties in being considered a part of the European community.
Opponents of the law had argued that it was not only homophobic but would also impose broad censorship and violate Lithuania’s commitments as a member of the United Nations and the European Union.
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite had demanded that parliament amend it.
“The homophobic clauses have been removed. The law is in line with European standards,” her spokesman Linas Balsys told AFP Tuesday.
Local gay groups are not content, finding the newly proposed language to also be oppressive.
Council for Global Equality’s Top Ten List “Where The U.S. Should Do More”
April 28th, 2009
Here is something that escaped our notice until now. The Council for Global Equality, in responding to the U.S. State Department’s annual human rights reports, has identified what it calls the “Top Ten Opportunities for the U.S. to Respond” to anti-LGBT human rights abuses which are highlighted in the report. The countries identified by the Council include Egypt, Gambia, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lithuania, Nigeria, and Uganda.
The ten countries weren’t necessarily selected because they are the worst countries in the world for LGBT abuses. Instead, they are identified as the ten countries in which the U.S. has the best opportunity to influence change through diplomatic, political and economic leverage. The details for each country are found at the Council’s web site (PDF: 140KB/8 pages) Here is a rundown for each country targeted by the Council, along with the Council’s recommendations:
- Egypt: arrests, beatings and imprisonment of men suspected of being HIV-positive. Egypt is the third largest recipient of foreign AID. “Our partnership with Egypt should extend beyond the Middle East peace process: it should require a broad commitment to human rights that includes the rights of LGBT men and women.
- Gambia: President Yahya Jammeh threatened to “cut off the head” of any homosexual in his country. “We should explore using USAID funds to support programs that encourage tolerance, respect for diversity, and a genuine commitment to civil society”
- Honduras: Identified as “one of the worst violators of gay and transgender human rights in 2008.” Police routinely round up LGBT youths without cause and Honduran security officials reportedly condone assaults and rapes on gay detainees. Multiple murders were reported, including a leading transgender rights activist. “The U.S. Embassy should offer visible support to LGBT leaders in the country, and should press for accountability within the Honduran government. It should work with Honduran authorities to offer tolerance and diversity training for police and other security forces that are suspected of complicity in human rights abuse. It also should press for a prompt and thorough investigation of the murders and other incidents noted above.”
- India: Police often commit crimes against LGBT people, and officials in Bangalore ordered the arrest of transgender people. “Given our increasingly close relationship with India, we should express frank concern to the Indian Government over LGBT violence and discrimination.”
- Jamaica: There have been numerous anti-gay mob attacks, sometimes with direct police complicity. Some attacks have resulted in murder. Homes were firebombed, and one individual was hacked to death by a machete. LGBT advocates continue to be murdered, beaten and threatened, driving some into exile. Police have been criticized in many instances for failing to respond. “Senior U.S. officials should urge Jamaica’s Prime Minister to show leadership by condemning this violence and instituting measures to bring these and any future perpetrators to justice. U.S. police assistance should be targeted toward programs that promote tolerance and the defense of vulnerable groups against mob violence.”
- Kuwait: Abuses against transgender individuals were cited. “Individual liberties are at the heart of our democracy, and are critical to the development of deep-seated relationships with like-minded friends and allies. We need to encourage this understanding with Kuwaiti and other authorities as part of our dialogue on human rights.”
- Kyrgyz Republic: The report notes “a pattern of beatings, forced marriages, and physical and psychological abuse in the Kyrgyz Republic against lesbian and bisexual women and transgender men.” The Council notes that Kyrgyzstan receives significant foreign assistance. “if Kyrgyz officials are unwilling to address the problem, we should reevaluate our assistance levels and other bilateral programs.
- Lithuania: Political leaders have embraced anti-gay policies and have denied LGBT groups the right to assemble peacefully. “Freedoms of assembly and of association are fundamental rights in any democracy. If Lithuania is to claim its place as a democratic state, it must be challenged to honor these principles in law and in practice.”
- Nigeria: Adults convicted of homosexuality are subject to stoning in parts of the country that have adopted Shari’a law. LGBT advocates have been threatened, stoned, and beaten. A proposed law pending in Nigeria’s Senate would not only ban same-sex marriage, but any “coming together of persons of the same sex with the purpose of living together …. for other purposes of same sexual relationship.” This would open the doors of arrest for those who are legally married outside of Nigeria and who happen to travel to that country for business or vacation. “We hope it [the U.S. Embassy] will work with European and other embassies in Abuja to voice strong concerns over this dangerous new bill in the Nigerian Senate.”
- Uganda: Homosexuality is criminalized. Police arrested members of an NGO for taking a public stand against discrimination, as well as three LGBT activist at an HIV/AIDS conference. “Uganda is one of the largest recipients of PEPFAR funding for HIV/AIDS care, prevention and treatment. In Uganda, the money has been used to empower institutions and activists that have led homophobic campaigns in the country. We need to consider whether the US government’s priority focus on abstinence funding is blunting the effectiveness of the money we’re spending, while also discouraging tolerance-based response to the epidemic.”
Writing on behalf of the council, Mark Bromley highlighted Egypt and Jamaica for special concern:
Egypt was our third largest recipient of foreign aid from USAID and the State Department last year. I would not suggest cutting off U.S. assistance in a country like Egypt, but I am convinced that our funding should give us more leverage to speak out forcefully against the HIV arrests documented in the report.
… The U.S. government’s diplomatic response to these abuses must be strong and unconditional, and it should also be tied to our financial commitments in the country. Jamaica is a country where carefully-targeted U.S. support to gay rights or human rights groups could be effective in improving both the legal and community responses to LGBT violence. In addition, we should use the foreign assistance funding that we have allocated over the past several years to professionalize the Jamaican police force to help respond to these attacks.
Lithuania Passes Non-Discrimination Bill
June 19th, 2008
Well knock me down with a feather. Some good news out of the Baltic States.
Pink News is reporting
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation has been included in a new Law on Equal Treatment passed by the Lithuanian parliament.
The new bill “requires equal treatment in the provision of goods and services” and joins a 2004 law banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Gays Smoke-Bombed in Lithuania
October 26th, 2007
As we have discussed before, the international anti-gay group Watchmen on the Walls has been wielding influence in Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia. They also enjoy the support of influential American preachers such as Ken Hutcherson and are seeking to import their violent brand of homophobia into areas of the United States which have large immigrant populations from those areas.
Now the BBC is reporting more violence out of that part of Europe:
An annual gay rights conference in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, was attacked with smoke bombs, after a rally in the city was banned.
The decent thing would be for those involved with the Watchmen to condemn this act of terrorism. They won’t.
The decent thing would be for those who associate with Ken Hutcherson and Scott Lively to disavow their tactics and their complicity in acts of violence. They won’t.