Homophobic MP Petras Gražulis

Amnesty International (AI) has urged Lithuania’s parliament to reject a proposed amendment to the law that would criminalise the “promotion of homosexual relations” with a fine of between 580 and 2,900 euros.

According to the human rights group, the law would punish almost any public expression or portrayal of, or information about, homosexuality.

This could include campaigning on human rights issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, providing sexual health information to LGBT people or organising gay film festivals and holding or attending Gay Pride events.

“This legislative initiative is blatantly discriminatory and would unlawfully restrict the right to freedom of expression of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people, and violate Lithuania’s obligations under international law,” AI said in a statement.

The promoter of the bill, MP Petras Gražulis – known for his homophobic views – has stated that one of the aims of the legislation is to prevent events like the Baltic Pride from being held in Lithuania in the future.

Amnesty insists that the law would violate a range of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and the principle of non-discrimination, and would aggravate homophobia in Lithuania.

Parliament is to vote on the amendment next Thursday. In its first reading last month, the measure was approved by a substantial 31-7 margin.

The first ever Pride parade in Lithuania took place in May this year and was met with demonstrators, prayer meetings and a failed attempt to petrol bomb the organisers’ offices.

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