A controversial bill that will make it illegal to discuss homosexuality in Lithuanian schools has been passed, despite being vetoed by the country’s president.

The ‘Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information’ has been amended to now include “the propaganda of homosexuality [or] bisexuality” as a detrimental factor on young people.

Despite President Adamkus’ veto of the law last month, Lithuania’s parliament holds the power to override him, and did so yesterday in an 87-6 vote. The law effectively bans any positive information about homosexuality being communicated by schools, in public places or in media accessible by children.

“Far from protecting children, the law deprives young people of their right to freedom of expression and access to information and risks isolating children who are already amongst the most at risk of violence at school or within the family,” said Amnesty International in a statement.

“Amnesty International is seriously concerned that this law will institutionalise homophobia and could be used to prohibit any legitimate discussion of homosexuality, impede the work of human rights defenders and further the stigmatisation of and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

The new definition puts homosexuality in the same category as the display of a dead or cruelly mutilated body and other information that causes fear or horror, or encourages suicide. The law will enter into force on 1 March 2010.

“We would like to point out that the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information violates the principles of European Union law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Arturas Rudomanskis, the chair of the board at Tolerant Youth Association.

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