Brussels Moves on Latest Lithuanian Threat to Gay Rights

The European Commission is closely watching the proposal now before the Lithuanian Seimas (Parliament) for introducing fines for the “public promotion of homosexual relations”, the European Parliament’s ALDE group of Liberals and Democrats said this morning.

Guy Verhofstadt MEP, the president of the ALDE group, said that a response had been received yesterday to the group’s “urgent letter” sent on Monday afternoon to European Commissioner Viviane Reding.

“We welcome the reply of Commissioner Reding […] to the ALDE letter of concern with the developments in Lithuania on LBGT rights and freedom of expression and of assembly,” Mr. Verhofstadt said in a statement.

“The Commission states that it is aware of the draft law which is under analysis by the services and will take any appropriate action.

“ALDE believes that it is clearly incompatible with European values, as enshrined in the ECHR and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“We will closely monitor developments to make sure this violation of fundamental rights does not take place on EU soil,” he pledged.

Lithuanian MEP Leonidas Donskis, a member of the ALDE group and a signatory to Monday’s letter to the Commissioner, has called on both the Lithuanian authorities and European Union institutions to defend the rights of LGBT people.

“The Lithuanian parliament is again trying to introduce the criminalization of LGBT persons,” he said.

“After the adoption of the controversial Law of the Protection of Minors Against Detrimental Public Information, which attracted international, European and national criticism, Lithuania again risks discriminating against minorities and violating fundamental rights – exactly as happened under the Communist regime.

“I appeal to Lithuanian authorities to defend fundamental rights, freedoms and democracy, for all citizens and to EU institutions to do what is in their powers to block these worrying developments.”

On Monday, ALDE MEP Sophie In’t Veld (Netherlands) said that “Lithuania is effectively making homosexuality illegal” by trying to bring-in the latest proposed legislation.

Commissioner Viviane Reding, a vice president of the European Commission, and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, is due to visit Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, on Monday (November 22).

According to her online diary, she is dues to meet President Dalia Grybauskait? – a former European Commissioner – and Minister for Justice Remigijus Šimašuis.

She been asked by the ALDE group to raise the matter of the proposed new legislation during her visit to Vilnius.


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