Statement from Commissioner Hammarberg

6 May 2010, Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg published a statement in support for the Baltic Pride 2010.

I am seriously concerned about the decision of the Vilnius District Administrative Court to suspend the permit given by the Vilnius municipality to hold the Baltic Pride march "For Equality" scheduled for 8 May. If the suspension of the permit will be prolonged and lead to a definite ban of the march, this means a setback in the implementation of agreed human rights standards. In particular, the right to peacefully assembly guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as by the Lithuanian Constitution, is hindered.

This right applies to all persons, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. States have therefore a positive duty to ensure that Pride festivals or demonstrations promoting LGBT rights can take place peacefully and that participants are protected, even if the ideas they promote may annoy or upset other people.

Banning Pride festivals is alien to the values of a modern European country and contrary to Council of Europe standards.

I hope that the decision will be overturned and that the Baltic Pride march can take place with all the guarantees of security and protection for the participants.

This could also be an occasion to foster a constructive dialogue in the Lithuanian society to overcome persistent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which is still an unfortunate reality also in many other European countries.

LGBT persons are human beings and deserve to enjoy the same rights as others.

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