By Hilary White

September 10, 2009 ( – Lithuania, a major target of homosexualist campaigners, has been heavily criticized by Amnesty International for proposing legislation prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality in public places.

The bill follows a controversy earlier this year when parliament passed a law prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality in schools. In July, a coalition of homosexualist organizations, including the Lithuanian gay league and Tolerant Youth Association, pressured Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus to veto the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information, which he did on 16 June 2009, citing “lack of definitions.” This veto was then repealed by a 87-6 vote in parliament and the bill was passed with new wording forbidding “propaganda of homosexual, bisexual or polygamous relations” in schools and other places accessible to young people.

“We have finally taken a step which will help Lithuania raise healthy and mentally sound generations unaffected by the rotten culture that is now overwhelming them,” said Petras Grazulis, a member of parliament and co-sponsor of the bill.

Parliament is now considering amendments to that law that, Amnesty says, will “criminalise the promotion of homosexuality” in most public places. Calling it “state-sponsored homophobia,” Amnesty says the proposals will “violate both European and international law.” The law would create obstacles, Amnesty said, for homosexuals “to live their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The proposals would change Article 310 of the Penal Code to say that “a person promoting homosexual relations in public places is committing a criminal offence which is punishable with community work or a fine or imprisonment.” Article 214 of the Administrative Code, would read, “The promotion of homosexual relations or financing of the promotion in public places is to be punished by a fine from one thousand to five thousand litas.”

Nicola Duckworth, Europe Director at Amnesty International, said, “It is hard to believe that a member of the European Union should even be considering the adoption of such legislation.”

The International Lesbian and Gay Association, (ILGA-Europe) an influential lobby group at the EU, has vowed to fight the law saying they are working with MEPs to bring a resolution against Lithuania. Despite the child protection law having been passed by an overwhelming majority vote in Lithuania's parliament, ILGA has said they will use the EU to overturn it. “We are taking legal advice as to whether this legislation breaches the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights as it segregates and discriminates against people of a certain sexual orientation” a spokesman told the Inter Press Service.

Homosexual activity is not illegal in Lithuania, but the country is under fire from activists for failing to create civil unions or legal domestic partnership arrangements for homosexuals. Lithuania was forced to equalize the age of consent for homosexuality with that for natural relations as part of the EU's “anti-discrimination” requirements prior to the country gaining membership in 2004.  A 2005 law prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” in employment, education and access to goods and services.

Activists complain that while homosexuality is almost fully accepted in many EU countries, it is “still soundly condemned by every major social institution from the government to the Church to the mass media.” Nevertheless, the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), an influential lobby group with the EU, held their 2007 conference in the capital, Vilnius.

A 2006 Angus Reid poll of EU member states showed Lithuania at 17 per cent support for same-sex “marriage” and 12 per cent for allowing homosexual partners to adopt children. A 2009 poll showed that only 16 per cent of Lithuanians would approve a Gay Pride march in Vilnius and 81.5 per cent considered homosexuality as a perversion, disease or paraphilia.

Lithuania's strong Catholic presence, estimated to be 80 per cent, is a constant irritant to homosexualist campaigners. Tolerant Youth Association chairman Vytautas Valentinavicius told media in July, “The Catholic Church has an enormous influence on the President of Lithuania as well as [parliament],” giving this as the reason Adamkus “has never stood up for Human rights, especially LGBT rights.”

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