Amidst the admonitions and international condemnation following the recent introduction of draconian anti-gay laws in Nigeria and Uganda, news from Lithuania (13 March), where a bill proposing Russian-style “gay propaganda” laws was blocked by MPs, came as a relief to LGBT rights activists.
A majority of members of the Lithuanian Parliament voted to bring the proposal to a vote (39 in favour, 34 opposed, with 20 abstentions). However, the anti-gay legislation was defeated because of parliamentary rules that require a threshold of votes to be reached as well as a majority.
Petras Gražulis, the Lithuanian Christian Democrat MP who introduced the bill in an attempt to stop the 2014 Baltic Pride, accused conservative politicians who did not back the bill of “not only changing their political orientation, but their sexual orientation as well”.
The bill proposed to outlaw LGBT Pride in Lithuania; ban speaking in public in support of LGBT rights; prohibit all gay rights campaign materials and audio-visual materials; and impose fines for any public display defying “traditional family values”.
Petras Gražulis is Lithuania’s leading anti-LGBT politician, and he continues to spearhead homophobia and anti-gay sentiment in Lithuania, regularly equating homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality.
In May 2012, he gate-crashed a conference organised by social democratic MP Marija Aušrinė Pavilionienė and the Lithuanian Gay League, held in the parliament building on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and declared that all gay people should leave the country.
“How are homosexuals better than necrophiliacs or pedophiles?” he ranted, “I’m ashamed that the rotten West, coming from the European Union that is morally corrupted, propagates this to Lithuania and tells us how we should treat homosexuals. Gays should leave Lithuania, not dictate their terms to us.”
Lithuanian lawmakers will consider further anti-LGBT bills this spring. A second bill, also sponsored by Gražulis and other anti-gay politicians, aims to force the organisers of Baltic Pride to pay all expenses to protect the event from homophobic attack. A third bill calls for a ban on adoption by same-sex couples. A fourth bill aims to make it lawful and permissible to vilify LGBT people.
The Lithuanian Government has already said it will oppose the last bill.