Forthcoming EU Presidency Capital Persistent in Banning Baltic Pride March on Central Avenue
On 24 April 2013 Vilnius authorities appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, indicating that, despite the judgment by the first instance court, the municipal authorities have the right to propose a location for a public assembly other than demanded by the organizers. "The law does not provide an organizer with the right to choose the location for a gathering unconditionally," the municipality claims in its statement.
Earlier this month, Vilnius Regional Administrative Court ordered Vilnius Municipality to reconsider a request by the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) to hold the Baltic Pride March for Equality in the central Gediminas Avenue and to initiate the negotiation procedure anew.
The municipality had proposed holding the March for Equality in rather isolated and inaccessible Upės Street. The LGL then turned to the Court, indicating that the proposed site was inadequate for the purpose of the event.
The Baltic Pride March for Equality scheduled on 27 July 2013.
Path to equality
“The path to equality is becoming longer,” Vladimir Simonko, leader of Lithuanian Gay League, said in his comment on Vilnius City Municipality's decision to appeal against the court ruling to initiate the negotiation procedure with regards to the location of the Baltic Pride March for Equality anew. "I can say that the path to equality for everyone in the city of Vilnius is becoming longer. I thought that we had gotten a little closer to the standards of European values in this city but it seems that I was wrong. I believe it was a strong signal from the court which ordered to continue the dialogue on the March, but it seems that that path was unacceptable for the other side, and that's regrettable. (...) We need to be patient and take this path. I still hope and believe that justice is possible in Lithuania," Simonko told on Wednesday.
LGL is of a position that the Police Department plays an important role in the judicial considerations about the location of the Baltic Pride March for Equality. The organizers are concerned that the Police Department, contrary to the positive experience in the course of the Baltic Pride 2010, is unwilling to secure and implement the effective exercise of the right to peaceful assembly for the groups with unpopular ideas, thus rendering the fundamental rights of the local LGBT* community dependable upon the majoritarian preferences and political views of some parties. Similar considerations were raised by the MEP Sophie in 't Veld, who said that "[i]f the Lithuanian authorities are capable of protecting a high level EU event, they would certainly be capable of ensuring adequate protection for the Baltic Pride".
It has to be noted that the Ministry of the Interior, which is in charge of the police force in Lithuania, is governed by the Minister Dailis Barakauskas from the Order and Justice Party. His party colleague and the Chair of Order and Justice political group in the Parliament MP Petras Gražulis is notoriously known for his homophobic legislative initiatives and hateful rhetoric. Earlier this year he suggested of relocating the Baltic Pride March for Equality to the dumping ground.