Norwegian minister – Lithuania is moving in the right direction on LGBT rights

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from The Lithuania Tribune/Delfi:

Lithuania is slowly moving in the right direction in ensuring rights of sexual minorities, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said in Vilnius on 29 July 2013.

In an interview with BNS, the minister said that the March for Equality through Vilnius’ central Gediminas Avenue on 27 July was a good sign, and underlined that European integration is important for ensuring equal rights for gays and lesbians, as well as other LGBT citizens.

“The fact that the march was allowed in the main street is a good thing. There was a lot of international attention on this, and the fact that counter-demonstrations were less violent, are signs of development in the positive direction,” Eide said after a meeting with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Lithuanian law-makers.

Around 500 representatives of sexual minorities and activists, including the Norwegian ambassador in Vilnius, took part in the March for Equality through the Lithuanian capital’s main street on Saturday.

A similar number of opponents also gathered to protests against the march. Several dozen protesters were later detained for minor offences, but no major outbreaks of violence were recorded.

The Norwegian minister said that one could see similar reactions in his country 30 years ago, but now the situation has changed.

“I was myself opening the Oslo pride a month ago, and nobody thought I was strange. My colleague, the minister of culture who is a Muslim woman, walked in front of the parade. But we weren’t always like that, this is a relatively recent development,” Eide said.

“It is because the LGBT community, and also the human rights community and the liberal community, have been making these political strides that it is now normal. I think Lithuania is one of the many countries who are in the midst of it right now,” the Norwegian minister commented.

“It could go faster, but it is moving in the right direction. I think European integration helps because what we are actually demanding is not special rights for gays, lesbians or transsexual people, we are just demanding the same rights as everybody else,” he said.

Homosexuals in Norway were permitted to get married and adopt in 2009. Civil partnerships between gay people have been allowed in Norway for over 20 years.

The Constitution of Lithuania states that a marriage is concluded upon the free mutual consent of a man and woman.

Civil partnerships are not permitted in Lithuania.

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