Lithuanian court accepts appeal on LGBT march venue for emergency hearing
Vilnius Regional Administrative Court on Tuesday accepted an appeal by the Lithuanian Gay League against Vilnius authorities' decision to bar an LGBT march from the capital's central Gedimino Avenue.
"The emergency hearing of the appeal will take place at 2 PM on Wednesday," Jolanta Talutienė, spokeswoman for the court, told BNS.
The Lithuanian Gay League had appealed against Vilnius City Municipality's refusal to issue a permission for the March for Equality to be held on the central street, quoting security concerns.
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."
Vilnius authorities propose holding the march on Upės Street a little further from the city center. Meanwhile, the organizers want to march through Gedimino Avenue where other events and demonstrations often take place.
The Lithuanian Gay League has already won one appeal case after a court ordered Vilnius authorities to review their decision.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius have actively refused to comment on the issue, saying that it is within the competence of Vilnius authorities.
Meanwhile Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius met with leaders of the Lithuanian Gay League on Friday and said that the March for Equality is important not only in terms of international commitments on human rights but is also an event demonstrating the society's maturity.
"We speak out in favor of peaceful assemblies and the opportunity for all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation, to enjoy equal rights and freedoms to express their opinion," the minister was quoted as saying in a statement issued after the meeting.
The organizers say that LGBT pride marches, held in many Western countries, are important for attracting attention to the discrimination of sexual minorities and promotion of equality. Some critics, however, call it "propaganda of homosexuality."
The March for Equality is planned on July 27.
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.