MEP: Ban Baltic Pride in city centre blemish on Lithuanian Presidency
Today Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld raised questions to the European Comission and the Council on the ban of the Baltic Pride march in the city centre of Vilnius, Lithuania. According to the Vilnius authorities the police would not be able to ensure public safety at Vilnius' main street and therefore they want to relocate the march to a less central situated area. "Freedom of assembly and equality are key values, and must be fully upheld by all. The Lithuanian Presidency should seize this opportunity to send a strong political signal in favour of LGBT rights, instead of hiding LGBT people from the sight", In 't Veld states.
In 't Veld will join the Baltic Pride march on 27th July this year, during the first month of the EU Presidency of Lithuania. "If 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", says In 't Veld.
Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) appealed the decision of the Vilnius City Municipality. On April 11th the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court ruled that the decision of the authorities was not legal. "A first step towards ensuring effective exercise of the right to peaceful assembly for the local LGBT community. LGL continues to plan the Baltic Pride march on main street to show the public that LGBT people are an integrated part of the Lithuanian society, and raise awareness of LGBT rights", says Vladimir Simonko, Board Chair LGL. According to the Court's judgment, the Municipality must initiate the process of negotiating the location for the Baltic Pride march with the organizers anew. In 't Veld: "The EU Presidency has a duty to ensure the protection of fundamental rights throughout the territory of the European Union, also in the main street of their own capital. Europe is not just a single market, but also a community of values."