Amnesty Condemns New Homophobic Law
Amnesty International, the Human Rights watchdog, has strongly condemned last month's passing of a law that effectively bans any discussion of gay issues within schools, by the country's government.
The parliamentarians claim that the new law on censorship will protect minors from being exposed to issues including physical and psychological violence, anything relating to dead bodies and any information or discussion about homosexuality and bisexuality. Despite being vetoed by the President earlier in the month, the "Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information" was passed by an overwhelming majority of MPs. Only six voted against it.
One clause of the law lays out that materials that agitate for homosexual, bisexual and polygamous relations must be banned from schools, public places and in media where they could be viewed by children, alleging that they could have a detrimental effect on the development of minors.
Amnesty claims that the law will in fact do much the reverse and instead further legitimatize those that discriminate against gays and lesbians. In a country where opinion makers think nothing of slurring the gay population the new law will likely make it more difficult for gay young people to express themselves and look for the right support and hand a green flag to homophobic attacks. In Vilnius gay marches are regularly attacked and in March the city's Mayor only allowed a parade far from the 'desirable' parts of the city.
"Far from protecting children, the law deprives young people of their right to freedom of expression and access to information and risks isolating children who are already amongst the most at risk of violence at school or within the family," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's researcher on Discrimination in Europe.
Amnesty has called on the Government to overturn the law.