B E I N G G A Y I N L I T H U A N I A
Previously, in the Soviet Union, same-sex sexual activity was a criminal act. In 1990, Lithuania declared its independence. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993.
From that date, things started to get better – little by little, the Lithuanian people, press and politicians became more tolerant or at least not explicitly homophobic. This was because we wanted to be recognised as real Europeans. In 2004, we did it – we joined European Union, with more than 90% approval in a Lithuanian referendum. We also entered NATO that year. People wanted to be free, Western, and civilised.
But since that date things changed. Politicians soon forgot the tolerance needed to join the EU. As the economic crisis hit in 2008, our new conservative government didn’t know how to deal with it. To divert attention and get sympathy from old-fashioned people raised in the Soviet Union, they started to use...homophobia.
And they succeeded. The homophobic Protection of Minors law that prohibits one to “agitate for homosexual, bisexual and polygamous relations” was passed in the summer of 2009. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, ILGA and many other organisations condemned the law. The European Parliament voted for a resolution saying we have to change it (the law).
Our own president Valdas Adamkus vetoed the law but the new president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, had to sign it (because the president can veto just once in our country); however, she gathered a commission which corrected the law, removing the homophobic lines.
But our parliament didn’t agree with it. They passed their new version of the law, which eliminates the homophobic wording but not the content. Now, it forbids “to propagate sexual relations” and “to deny family values, promote different conception of family and marriage as it is regulated in the LR Constitution and LR Civil Codex”. It means you can’t publicly advocate gay marriage or partnership, and you can’t teach about safe-sex in schools.
It sounds crazy. Can it be true?
The law came into force in March 2010. Let’s test it with Porno Melodrama.