Lithuanian drivers say no to gay ads

  • 2007-05-16
  • By Arturas Racas
VILNIUS - Lithuanian trolleybus drivers thwarted plans by a gay organization to launch a pro-tolerance media campaign in Vilnius and Kaunas by refusing to drive vehicles that carried the campaign's ads, the Lietuvos Rytas daily reported. The tolerance campaign was to be launched in early May, and would have started in Vilnius on May 12. Under the project, which was initiated by Lithuanian Gay League, a few trolleybuses in Vilnius and Kaunas would have driven through to the streets bearing ads saying, "a gay person can serve in the police," and "a lesbian can work in a school."

But when vehicles were outfitted with the ads it appeared that the drivers didn't want to drive them. Jonas Bielinis, director of Vilnius trolleybus company, at first told journalists that the trolleybus with the advertisements was broken, but later acknowledged that it had not gone out on the streets because a "political decision" was needed.
The decision later came from the Vilnius city government in the form of a statement saying that the capital's government, taking into account reports on the campaign for the rights of homosexual people, wants to declare that it "does not approve of such advertising."

"We are tolerant towards people of any sexual orientation, but we give priority to the traditional family, encourage family values and do not welcome the public demonstration of homosexual ideas in Vilnius," said Vilnius Mayor Juozas Imbrasas.
Vladimir Simonko, president of Lithuanian Gay League, said the position of the Vilnius municipality shows that the Lithuanian people are still quite homophobic.

"More than 15 years have passed since Lithuania regained independence, but it seems people here are not yet ready to accept that different people are entitled to have the same rights," Simonko said at a briefing in Parliament on May 16.
He also complained that the Vilnius municipality has refused the Gay League permission to raise a rainbow flag, the international symbol of gays and lesbians, in the city's Municipality Square on May 25.

"It is an international action to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and it is supported by the European Union. But the Vilnius municipality does not seem to understand this," Simonko said.