LGL emphasises the discriminatory nature of the ban on the Baltic Pride 2013

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from The Lithuania Tribune: http://en.delfi.lt/44038/lgl-emphasises-the-discriminatory-nature-of-the-ban-on-the-baltic-pride-2013-201344038/

In response to the letter by the Vilnius City Major Artūras Zuokas to the Members of the European Parliament regarding the ban on the Baltic Pride 2013 March for Equality, Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) has provided some additional information in relation to the unfortunate situation, described by the Mayor in his contribution, writes www.atviri.lt.

According to LGL, the legal basis for the ban on the Baltic Pride 2013 March for Equality, as correctly indicated by Mr. Zuokas, is the Article 4(3) of the Law on Public Meetings, which limits the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly closer than 75 meters from national courts and closer than 25 meters from public institutions.

However, it has to be emphasised that there can be no “unconditional” prohibitions on the right to peaceful assembly in a democratic society – any limitation ought to be necessary and proportionate to the aim sought.

LGL further emphasises that the above indicated legal basis for limiting the right to peaceful assembly has been never applied to any public event – either of political, cultural or social nature – taking place on Gediminas Avenue. In the period between 1 January, 2013 and 31 March, 2013 the Vilnius City Municipality has authorised 74 public assemblies on this particular location.

Moreover, some of these events took place even during the week days, thus implicating that the legitimate aim of securing smooth functioning of public institutions was neither sufficient nor necessary in limiting the right to peaceful assembly on those instances. Taken into account that the Baltic Pride March for Equality 2013 is scheduled on Saturday (i.e. 27 July, 2013) and that it was banned on the legal grounds, which were never applied to any other social group, we claim that it is disproportionate limitation of our constitutional right to freedom of peaceful assembly, which is clearly of a discriminatory nature.

Artūras Zuokas | DELFI, Photo by V. Kopūstas

In addition to this, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania in its judgment has explicitly referred to the Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The direct reference to the text of the Recommendation indicates that the Lithuanian courts already detected discriminatory motives behind unilateral relocation of the March for Equality from the central avenue to the rather isolated and inaccessible area on the river side by the Municipality.

In relation to the current ban on the Baltic Pride March for Equality 2013, when the legal provision is being applied only for one social group but not for other groups, the discriminatory motive on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity becomes even more evident.

LGL is said to be ready to engage in a constructive dialogue and negotiations with the Vilnius City Municipality with regards to the location of the Baltic Pride 2013 March for Equality. However, we are of a position that the willingness to cooperate has to be mutual and based on good intentions. We are happy that the Mayor Artūras Zuokas has committed himself in implementing the Court’s judgment with regards to the ban on the March for Equality.

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