It has emerged that Lithuania’s lawmakers are set to consider five separate anti-LGBT amendments, several of which the EU has already said are against human rights standards.
The bills, which are slated for action this December, cover a wide range of topics but all seem specifically designed to dehumanize and deny basic civil rights to Lithuania’s LGBT population.
Among the proposed amendments is a total ban on same-sex adoption, supposedly as a matter of child protection and reportedly featuring an explanatory note that “every child has the natural right to a father and a mother.” Other provisions appear designed to curtail freedom of assembly and speech.
One amendment would allow for fines should officials deem there to have been a “public denigration of constitutional moral values,” with penalties up to the equivalent of $2,400.
Another amendment – which Gay Star News states has not yet formally been placed on the agenda — would create significant financial burdens for anyone wanting to organize an event like a Pride celebration by requiring that organizers cover the expenses of security officials as they attempt to ensure safety and public order. Obviously, as Pride events in Lithuania receive very little financial assistance anyway, this would for the most part preclude any gay rights events.
A further provision would rescue a so-called “Criticisms of Homosexuality” bill after it was postponed last session. The bill would directly violate EU nondiscrimination commitments by establishing a clause in the Lithuania Criminal Code absolving “the criticism of sexual behavior or sexual practices, convictions or beliefs, or persuasion to change this behavior, practices, convictions or beliefs” from ever being used as evidence of “harassment, denigration, incitement to hatred, discrimination or incitement to discrimination.”
Essentially, this appears to be a blank check for open vilification and even possible incitement to violence against LGBTs without legal recourse.
Lastly, and perhaps most concerning of all, is an amendment to ban gender realignment medical care. The amendment reportedly justifies this because, as gender reassignment is socially “very controversial,” it is right to prohibit it and prevent public funds being used to provide the treatment — this despite the fact that gender dysphoria and related gender variance are recognized medical conditions.
According to a Pink News translation, the text says: “Society is not ready to accept gender reassignment practices due to certain psychosocial reasons, and therefore the permission to undergo gender reassignment surgeries will lead to a number of medical and ethical issues.” The amendment makes the misstep of suggesting that reassignment is impossible anyway because gender is determined by genetics “from the moment of conception.”
Of all the amendments, this is perhaps the most brazen as it systematically violates a European Court of Human Rights ruling made in 2007 that specifically stated Lithuania must enact a law providing for gender reassignment and attempts to make good on previous threats to pass such a law in defiance of international human rights standards.
This raft of anti-LGBT measures is particularly embarrassing for the EU as Lithuania currently holds the rolling presidency for 2013, meaning, among other things, that it is the venue for various conventions such as one impending summit on “gender equality.” At the time of writing on Thursday September 12, Brussels is also preparing to hold a concert in Lithuania’s honor to mark the 2013 presidency.
While it might be that Russia’s hosting the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games has elevated its discriminatory propaganda law to the angry gaze of the world, it is worth remembering that Lithuania and other nations within the EU had already instituted such laws much earlier, dating back to 2009 in Lithuania’s case.
Image credit: Thinkstock.
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