Gay rights questioned by Luxembourg MP

  • 2008-04-04
  • In cooperation with BNS

VILNIUS- The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers said that Vilnius should not banpublic gay demonstrations based solely on hostile public opinion, reported theLietuvos Rytas daily.

This was the first time over the past 15 years when theCouncil of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly expresses concern over the situationin Lithuania and sends an inquiry to the Committee of Ministers.

Luxembourg'sMP Jean Huss noted that upon accession to the Council of Europe in 1993 Lithuaniacommitted itself to respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. In hisopinion, the actions of theVilniusmunicipalityconstituted a severe violation of rights of sexual minorities.
The MP indicated three actions: the ban to put slogans regarding tolerancetowards sexual minorities on a trolleybus, the ban for the European Union'santi-discrimination truck to come toVilniusand theban to hoist a rainbow-colored flag in the Town Hall Square in the Lithuanian capital.

After receiving strongly worded documents from Strasbourg, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry forwarded themto the mayor of Vilnius,Juozas Imbrasas.  

"Changing something is not up to us, I have no ideawhat else we can do to make them change their minds," said DariusStaniulis, director of the Foreign Ministry's Human Rights Division.

Speaking at the Wednesday's meeting, Lithuanian envoy to the Council ofEurope, Ambassador Neris Germanas, assured that the inquiry of theLuxembourgish MP would be taken into consideration.

Germanas stressed that up until now Lithuaniawas considered by the Council of Europe to be a country respectful to humanrights.
The chairman of the LithuanianGay League, Vladimiras Simonko, sees the Strasbourgmeeting as a significant signal for the Lithuaniangovernment's obligations to work in the field of human rights. In his opinion,the letter of the Luxembourgish MP was the result of lobbyist actions of theInternational Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).