Lithuanian ministry proposes to scrap ban on telling minors about LGBTQ

  • 2023-07-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The Lithuanian Justice Ministry proposes to discard a law provision that information about LGBTQ marriages has a negative impact on minors.

The ministry has drafted an amendment to the Law on the Protection of Minors from Negative Effects of Public Information to remove the definition of information that has a negative impact on minors as "information that denigrates family values, promotes a different concept of marriage and creation of family from the one enshrined in the Constitution and the Civil Code".

"It is time to correct the regulatory error that led to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which found that Lithuania had violated Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (freedom of expression)," Justice Minister Ewelina Dobrowolska posted on her Facebook account.

"I believe that we can be one step closer to freedom and respect and one step further than Hungary (the only EU country with a similar regulation)," she said.

The explanatory note to the draft amendment says that the abolition of this provision will remove the possibility of discriminatory restrictions on freedom of expression.

The amendment is said to have been drafted to implement the European Court of Human Rights' judgment of January 23, 2023 in the case of Macate versus Lithuania.

The Justice Ministry said in February that it was not planning to initiate amendments to the law in the near future.

"Since the (ECHR) decision was still being analyzed in the spring, we did not plan to or table (draft amendments to the parliament) during the spring session," Dobrowolska told BNS on Friday.

The minister said that an action plan for how to respond to the ECHR ruling was being prepared at the time.

"The ECHR issued its decision in January. As always, an action plan is drawn up on how Lithuania will assess the decision and what actions – both regulatory and individual – it can take," she said. 

Late July is the deadline for working out the plan which will contain, among other things, legislative measures, she added.

Neringa Dangvyde Macate won the case against Lithuania over the restricted distribution of Amber Heart, her fairy tale book for 9-10 year olds that depicts same-sex relationships.

The court ruled that Lithuania had violated the European Convention on Human Rights' article on freedom of expression by restricting the distribution of the book, and awarded 12,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages and 5,000 euros in legal costs.

The collection of fairy tales 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 distribution of Amber Heart was later resumed, but the book was marked with a warning label stating that its contents could be harmful to children under the age of 14.

The author said she had been discriminated against and turned to the ECHR in 2019 after an unsuccessful appeal to Lithuania's courts.