By Peter J. Smith

VILNIUS, Lithuania, March 2, 2010 ( – A new law banning the media and schools from promoting harmful sexual behaviors, as well as violence and suicide, to the youth took effect in Lithuania on Monday. The law also restricts the ability of homosexuals to promote same-sex unions and organize “gay pride” marches in the Baltic nation.

The Seimas, Lithuania’s parliament, passed the Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information in June 2009. The law prohibits the dissemination, in a public forum accessible to youth under 18 years, of information recognized to have a negative effect on the mental, intellectual, and moral development of youth. 

A previous version of the law specifically forbade the spreading of information to youth that "agitates for homosexual, bisexual relations, or polygamy." However, that language incensed European Union parliamentarians, who voted 349-218 in September 2009 to formally condemn Lithuania’s law as incompatible with EU prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

In response to that international imbroglio, the Seimas voted in December to replace that language with broader stipulations forbidding individuals and organizations from “encouraging the sexual abuse of minors, sexual relations between minors and other sexual relations.” 

The new language adopted by the Seimas fulfills the letter of the EU stipulations, while allowing the nation to continue protecting family values as intended under the original version. 

The measure also bans “the portrayal of physical or psychological violence, displaying a dead or mutilated body, [and] information that arouses fear or horror or that encourages self abuse or suicide.”

It also prohibits the spreading of information that “denigrates family values” or “encourages a concept of marriage and family other than stipulated in the Constitution and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania.”

Since Lithuania’s civil law defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, homosexualist campaigners would violate the law by agitating for same-sex “marriage” in public places accessible to youth. The law also would appear to empower municipal leaders to forbid “gay pride” marches – which characteristically put graphic sexual acts on display.

However, the law does not specify any serious penalties for violations. Parliamentarians had debated, but narrowly rejected an amendment that would have fined or imprisoned violators up to three years.

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