Lithuanian Minister of Interior says Europe is misinformed about LGBT pride parade ban in Vilnius
Lithuania's Interior Minister Juozas Bernatonis reassured members of the European Parliament that the upcoming LGBT pride parade is not banned in Lithuania, with disagreements continuing about the venue of the event.
"You have received one-sided information. Please come, see and make sure that things are not what they are said to be," the minister said at a meeting of the EP Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Tuesday evening.
"A wrong message was spread in Europe that Lithuania is banning the gay parade. As you know, the issue is not about banning but about the venue of the parade and, as a matter of fact, I cannot understand why the street where we hold European presidency events is not suitable for the parade," the minister later told journalists in comment of his presentation at the committee.
In his words, the MEPs asking questions about LGBT discrimination have received one-sided information from members of the gay community or MPs who want to gain reputation in the run-up to the EP elections.
Speaking at the committee, Bernatonis said Lithuania has made massive progress in connection to LGBT rights since the declaration of independence more than two decades ago.
Last Friday, a Vilnius court ruled that Vilnius city municipality should issue a permit for the LGBT pride parade along the city's central Gedimino Avenue.
Vilnius administration had suggested holding the rally in a more remote Upės Street, but the Lithuanian Gay League disagrees and wants to march on Gedimino Avenue, a traditional venue for different events and demonstrations.
Vilnius administration pledged to file an appeal against the court ruling.
The March For Equality is scheduled for July 27.
After the Lithuanian minister presented the priorities of the EU Council presidency, he was, among other questions, asked about the potential presence of the US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) prison in Lithuania.
"We haven't found any proof of torture in the territory of Lithuania. If there is any evidence, the Prosecutor General's Office will reopen the investigation," said the minister who merely had a few minutes for answering numerous questions from MEPs.