MEPs welcome Lithuania’s new progressive law on advertising

A new Law on the Provision of Information to the Public came into force on 30 June, outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Previous drafts of the law had included a ban on mentioning homosexuality, but the Lithuanian Parliament made a volte-face and rejected these proposals.

Lithuanian flagThe draft text examined earlier in the Lithuanian Seimas stated that “any advertisement or a commercial audiovisual […] may not depict or promote a sexual orientation”*. Although the wording encompassed all sexual orientations, it was understood to target homosexuality.

The law adopted establishes that “advertising and audiovisual commercial communications must not publish information that humiliates human dignity, discriminating or encouraging discrimination based on […] sexual orientation”*. The Lithuanian Gay League reports that this sharp turnaround was led by Member of the Seimas Valentinas Stundys and Deputy Speaker of the Seimas Algis Čaplikas.

Welcoming recent developments, Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, reacted: “We are extremely happy to see that our colleagues in the Seimas made the right choice by standing up to unfounded bigotry and fear. The claims put forward by Mr Gražulis and his few allies are motivated by dubious morals, and the Seimas saw clear in this game. Lithuania can be proud that it upheld modern values, shared across the EU and the world.”

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “This is a powerful message sent by Lithuania’s legislature, both to its people and to the rest of the EU. However, we remain concerned that the Law on the Protection of Minors from the Detrimental Effects of Public Information is still in place, and that a ban of gender reassignment surgery was recently proposed. We call on our fellow law-makers in Vilnius to act responsibly and coherently by striking down existing discriminatory laws, and adopting new ones that protect everyone’s human rights—including LGBT people, adults and children.”

The European Parliament adopted a resolution in January 2011, calling on the Seimas to refrain from enacting discriminatory laws and “clarify the meaning of the ban in the Law on Advertising” in relation to sexual orientation.

*: Unofficial translations