Lithuanian court rules in favor of LGBT pride organizers
The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania passed a ruling on Thursday, ordering Vilnius authorities to review their decision regarding the venue for an LGBT pride march scheduled for July.
Having heard the organizers' appeal, the court ruled that Vilnius City Municipality had made a non-substantiated decision to move the planned event from central Gedimino Avenue, as requested by organizers, to Upės Street a little further from central Vilnius.
"The Law on Meetings does not give the administration of Vilnius City Municipality the right to unilaterally designate a location for a march or meeting without prior arrangement with the meeting's organizers," the court said in a statement.
Leaving the ruling of a lower court, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania said that if the parties involved fail to come to an agreement during negotiations, Vilnius authorities must issue a refusal which could subsequently be appealed pursuant to the procedure as provided by law.
Taking into account the fact that the march is to take place within a month, on July 27, the judicial panel stressed that the coordination procedure should take place as soon as possible.
Vilnius authorities base their decision on security reasons. Meanwhile, the march organizers believe they should be allowed to march through a street where marches and demonstrations by other groups often take place.
The first LGBT march in Lithuania took place in 2010, which was also preceded by court hearings on the march location and permission to hold it in the first place. The march itself took place eventually, with several hundred people marching through a heavily-guarded territory in the presence of around a thousand protesters.