VILNIUS — The Lithuanian government is in the midst of modifying the contentious “protection of minors” law that the European Parliament (EP) condemned last week as discriminatory.
On Sept. 16 the EP voted 349-218, with 49 abstentions, to ask that Lithuania revamp the recently-passed child protection legislation to avoid any possibility of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The EP resolution states that the Lithuanian law is “vague and legally unclear and might lead to controversial interpretations.”
The Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information was passed in July in reaction to an uproar about the EU’s Gender Loops project that teaches alternative gender roles to primary school students. The law, which takes effect in March 2010, bans the public display of information that promotes homosexuality, polygamy, the paranormal, graphic violence and unhealthy eating habits to minors. This is not limited to within classrooms but television shows, radio and print media.
The law was vetoed by former President Valdas Adamkus, but passed the Seimas with a sufficient majority to force current President Dalia Grybauskaitė to sign it. Grybauskaitė has since set up a panel to amend to the law to make it less discriminatory, and the prime minister’s office said it is open to the panel’s proposals.
“Of course [the coalition] is open to changing and improving that law to avoid any discrimination,” Ridas Jasiulionis, an adviser to the prime minister, told Baltic Reports today. “Some mistake happened, because the real goal of that law is to protect children from any bad information … that will bring any bad effect on the development of the child. So it wasn’t written correctly, so it will be improved.”
In addition to the EP, the law has been criticized by Amnesty International and gay rights groups as discriminatory against homosexuals.
Artūras Rudomanskis, representative of Tolerant Youth Association, told Baltic Reports that he was optimistic the law would be amended.
“I think it will be overturned because the EP is an important institution. It is a moral institution because all the people from Europe elect this government and so its closer to people and their opinion, not to what the MPs from each country want,” Rudomanskis said.
Not the first time
The protection of minors law was put forward by parliamentarian Petras Gražulis, a member of the conservative Order and Justice Party. Gražulis has also called for re-criminalizing homosexuality in Lithuania.
This isn’t the first time the EP has decried Lithuanian legislation on homosexuality. In the summer of 2008 the EP intervened to stop another Order and Justice proposal to remove anti-workplace discrimination laws protecting homosexuals.
— Baltic Reports assistant editor Adam Mullett contributed to this article.