Parliament Speaker does not believe anti-LGBT bills do much harm to Lithuania's image

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from 15 min:

Parliamentary Speaker Vydas Gedvilas has downplayed the damage caused to Lithuania's image by parliamentary discussions of bills that discriminate against LGBT people.

Commenting on the situation in an interview to the Žinių Radijas radio station on Wednesday morning, Gedvilas said that bills restricting rights of LGBT people had only received initial backing so far.

"Politicians want to be visible and bright, they have an opportunity to propose any amendment, this is their political operations, and if (Petras) Gražulis submitted the amendment, it is his opinion. It has only been approved for discussion, thus there is no reason to jump to conclusions – we should wait for opinions of other politicians," he said.

Gedvilas refused to disclose his personal opinion on the bill, propmising to give it during the ballot at the Seimas. He did not vote in the initial voting, as he was out of the country on that day.

Last week, parliamentarians approved for discussion several bills touching upon LGBT rights, namely, the amendment to the Code of Administrative Offenses drafted by Petras Gražulis of the Order and Justice Party that envisages fines for "defilement of Constitutional moral values and organization of events that run counter to public morals" and proposed changes to the Civil Code and Children's Rights Protection Law that would bar homosexuals from fostering or adopting children.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has warned that the bills with a potential to curb LGBT rights could affect the country's image on the international arena.

In his words, the proposed monetary fines to organizers of gay pride events may run counter to the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the agreement on operations of the European Union (EU).

The foreign minister expressed hope that parliamentary committees will discuss the controversial bills as soon as possible and put an end to them.

In July, Vilnius will host its second gay pride in support of equal rights for LGBT people. Lithuania will take EU Council presidency on July 1.

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