A court in Lithuania has banned the ‘March for Tolerance’, the climax of Baltic Gay Pride which takes place this coming weekend.
Lithuania’s Interim Attorney General asked the court to ban the march, scheduled for this Saturday, apparently out of concerns over potential security risks.
The Vilnius Region Administrative Court ‘froze’ the permit previously issued by the mayor of Vilnius, agreeing with the Attorney General that the public and marchers’ security cannot be assured in the face of planned violent counter-protests.
This despite police previously stating that they were confident security could be assured.
Vytautas Valentinavicius, chairman of the Tolerant Youth Association, one of the organisers of the event, told the Baltic News Service that the court’s decision was “beyond understanding”.
The organisers immediately appealed the decision at the Highest Administrative Court, which could overrule the suspension ordered by the regional court.
Lithuanian MP Rokas Zilinskas described the ban as “a terrible shame” while Lithuanian MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Leonidas Donskis said that the country was becoming “similar to Russia” in its disrespect for minority rights and the rule of law.
“We fully support the appeal by the organisers of the Baltic Pride to challenge yesterday’s Court decision and are hoping that justice will prevail and the March for Equality will go on as planned,” commented Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe.
Nicolas Beger, Director of the Amnesty International European Union Office added: “If the Court’s decision will not be overturned, are we facing a European Union of ‘Equality for all’ in which a Member State can select which human rights to uphold?”
Baltic Pride is organised by four LGBT organisations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and is set to take place in Vilnius, Lithuania, from 7 to 8 May.