LT and EU Face Off Over Homosexuality

The latest in a veritable deluge of homophobia in Lithuania's capital, the country now seems to be ready to go head-to-head with the EU over gay tolerance after banning the EU's 'anti-discrimination truck' from entering Vilnius.

Sexual tolerance (and the overt lack thereof) has been in the spotlight in Vilnius of late, as the city reluctantly hosts its first ever gay pride event this weekend. The European Union has had a keen eye on gay issues in Lithuania, making certain measures mandatory (like the legalisation of homosexuality) to become an EU member state. Since ascension, however, it's been all traditional family values and 'not in public, no way' from the government and the Church. The city's gay rights organisations have not even proposed having a parade (such events in Riga and Tallinn recently were not without incident) apprehensively saying that Lithuanian society simply is not ready for such an event.

The forthcoming Rainbow Days event is hardly scheduled to be earth-shaking. Mostly it will (or would have) consist(ed) of seminars, the availability of information from the EU's 'tolerance truck' and the unfurling of a large rainbow coloured flag. Hardly the Berlin Love Parade. Nonetheless, Major Juozas Imbrasas, one week after backing city bus drivers who essentially went on strike when pro-tolerance advertisements appeared on their buses, has refused to give permission to the 'anti-discrimination truck' to enter Vilnius. The truck is currently on a tour of 19 EU member states as part of the For Diversity: Against Discrimination information campaign. The Vilnius city council's justification of the move barring the truck from the city and the weekend's events is that its presence would spark ugly reprisals from anti-gay organisations. If this rationale is legitimate (actually even if it isn't), it certainly speaks very poorly of Vilnius residents.

The objective of the Truck Tour 2007 is to raise awareness and disseminate information about the For Diversity: Against Discrimination campaign, as well as the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. The truck is not some kind of rainbow-coloured cruiser accommodating homosexual indiscretions. It's a vehicle for tolerance, respect and the need to combat discrimination on all grounds - racial and ethnic, and those of age, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief. This is the first time the truck has been denied access to a European capital during its four-year tour and it will be interesting to see how the EU responds. The decision is likely to be looked upon as an affront against the entire EU, who have thus far been rather lenient toward Lithuania's failure to fall in step with EU stances on gay rights and tolerance. Banning the vehicle of the EU's anti-discrimination campaign, Lithuania has essentially rejected the fact that discrimination - in general and against homosexuals - is illegal in the EU. Perhaps Lithuania needs to be reminded that they are an EU member state, and the EU will likely act accordingly.

We call upon the Vilnius authorities to immediately overturn this ban and ensure that all planned activities are taking place," an EU insider commented. Moreover as already confirmed on a number of occasions by the European Court of Human Rights, security risks cannot be used as a justification for not allowing public activities and it is a positive duty of local authorities to ensure security of the event. We will find out by the end of this week if Vilnius' LGBT organisation will see their rather timid first-ever gay rights event go off. Instead of coming out of the closet, it looks like they'll be going back to the drawing board. Though it is unlikely the EU can act fast enough to save this weekend's event, they should have plenty of time to reprimand Lithuania before this October's annual European conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).


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Larry Tighe
United States

The EU should reconsider Lithuania’s membership and see if Trump and the USA will shed an American soldier to help a country that is more like Russia than NATO.

Reply Apr 9th, 2019

Poland isn't such VERY catholic. It's an ugly stereotype! Welcome to europride in Warsaw BTW ;)

Reply Jul 12th, 2010
Larry Tighe
United States

I am Roman Catholic. Wheeling, West Virginia, where I am from, is about 70% Catholic. The Diocesan Cathedral is in Wheeling. Yet, we are having our third Gay Pride Festival this year. In 2016 Wheeling City Council passed comprehensive Gay rights protections. By the way, Wheeling PD and the FBI will take of any individuals who choose to violate others’ rights.

Reply Apr 9th, 2019
Mike B
United Kingdom

It is the same story pretty much all over Central and Eastern Europe. These countries are pretty intolerant (some like Poland are VERY Catholic) What do you expect fro goodness sake?

Reply May 22nd, 2007