Amnesty: Baltic Pride must be allowed to take place in Lithuania

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Amnesty International says a cancelled Pride march in Lithuania must be allowed to take place. 

Authorities in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, declared the Baltic Pride event, planned for 27 July, cannot be held in the city centre and failed to propose an alternative route.

Following a meeting with the Lithuania Gay League, John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International, said: “It is appalling that despite domestic rulings in favour of Baltic Pride organisers, the city of Vilnius has decided to ban the Baltic Pride march, in blatant violation of the right to freedom of assembly of Baltic Pride’s organisers and other participants.

“The Vilnius authorities must promptly reopen the discussions with Baltic Pride organisers to ensure that the event takes place without hindrance and with adequate protection by police.”

He added: “The decision to ban the Baltic Pride march on security grounds is disproportionate, given that the Vilnius authorities refused to engage in constructive discussions with the Lithuania Gay League, despite rulings by domestic courts’ saying that negotiations had to be re-opened.

On 20 June, Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court confirmed a ruling from the First Instance Court, stating that the Vilnius municipality was in breach of domestic law on peaceful assemblies by denying the possibility for the march to take place in the city centre.

The first Pride parade in Lithuania took place in Vilnius in 2010 – although attempts were made by opponents to ban it with anti-LGBT legislation.

In May, the Lithuanian Parliament approved at first reading an amendment to the Code of Administrative Violations to impose fines for the “public denigration of constitutional moral values and of constitutional fundamentals of family life, as well as the organisation of public events contravening public morality”.

Earlier this year, Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite said discussions on the introduction of same-sex civil partnerships in the country were premature.