Lithuanian govt plans to turn to top court over ban on promoting LGBTIQ family concept

  • 2023-12-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The Lithuanian Justice Ministry is initiating a petition to the Constitutional Court over a law provision that bans disseminating among minors information "that denigrates family values" and promotes the LGBTIQ family concept.

"Today, a draft government resolution on the petition to the Constitutional Court will be submitted by the Justice Ministry to the relevant institutions for coordination," Justice Minister Ewelina Dobrowolska told BNS on Wednesday.

The move comes in response to the European Court of Human Rights' ruling in early 2023 that Lithuania violated the rights of Neringa Macate, a now deceased writer, by applying this provision.

The government proposed that the Seimas remove this provision from the Law on the Protection of Minors from Negative Effects of Public Information, but the parliament rejected the initiative in November.

"We expect to have this issue on the agenda of a Cabinet meeting in late January or early February," Dobrowolska said on Wednesday.

The Strasbourg court ruled that Lithuania violated the European Convention on Human Rights by restricting the publication of Macate's book Amber Heart.

Some legal experts say that the Constitutional Court could be asked to give its opinion on whether the legal regulation, which is still in force, discriminates against a part of society.

Meanwhile, opponents of the government's proposed amendment argue that while the current provision bans denigrating family values and promoting the LGBTIQ family concept, it does not prohibit information about it, and therefore did not need to be changed.

According to Dobrowolska, even if the Constitutional Court decides that the provision does not contradict the Constitution, the court's opinion could bring more clarity to the legal system and be used as guidance by institutions in making their decisions.

Amber Heart, a collection of fairy tales depicting same-sex relationships, was published by the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences in 2013.

However, the university suspended the distribution of the book a few months later, citing as the reason a document from the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics stating that Macate's book was harmful to children aged under 14.

The office said its position was based on existing legal regulations.