Foreign Minister thinks that gay march demonstrates Lithuanian society’s maturity

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from The Lithuania tribune:

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius met with representatives of the Lithuanian Gay League on Friday and underlined the importance of the gay march planned in Vilnius.

According to the Minister, the March for Equality is important not only in terms of international commitments on human rights but is also an event demonstrating a society’s maturity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Vilnius authorities on Wednesday refused to allow a gay march through central Gediminas Avenue in late July, citing security reasons.

The municipality said in a statement that “there’s a strong possibility that incidents may repeat, despite the police involvement, and there may also be a threat to the public order, morality and public security.”

“We speak out in favour of peaceful assemblies and the opportunity for all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation, to use equal rights and freedoms to express their opinion,” the minister was quoted as saying in a statement issued after the meeting.

Linkevičius called on looking for a solution acceptable to all parties involved. In his words, international commitments taken by Lithuania as well as the country’s internal legal acts entrench respect for all fundamental human rights and freedoms. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs underlined that the right to peaceful association is one of the fundamental principles of democratic societies.

The Lithuanian Gay League pledged to appeal against the municipal decision. It has already won one appeal case after a court ordered Vilnius authorities to review its decision to allow a gay march only through Upes Street a bit further from central Vilnius.

The position of Vilnius authorities was also condemned by Amnesty International.

The march is planned on 27 July.

The first gay march in Lithuania took place in 2010, which was also preceded by court hearings on the march location and permission to hold it. The march itself took place eventually, with several hundred people marching through a heavily-guarded territory in the presence of around a thousand protesters.

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