Politicians in Lithuania are set to vote in a bill tomorrow (12 November), modeled on Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.
Citizens could be fined for anything from holding an LGBTI Pride to just speaking out in public about gay, bi and trans rights.
To vote through the legislation, they have had to disguise it as it breaches European Union law and Lithuania is an EU member.
The amendment to the country’s administrative code punishes ‘public denigration of constitutional moral values’.
But under the country’s constitution, a family is a man and woman. So the law will attempt to silence anyone who speaks out for LGBTIs – from activists to media to private individuals.
Fines will range from €300 to €900 ($320 – $965) up to €1,800 ($1,930) for repeat offenders.
The average wage in Lithuania is only €500 a month, so it could be enough to silence many.
Lithuanian filmmaker and gay rights advocate Romas Zabarauskas told GSN the private member’s bill came as a ‘shock’.
And it appears to have taken LGBTI activists in the country by surprise.
Boris Dittrich of Human Rights Watch told GSN: ‘It is a private member’s bill being proposed by Petras Gražulis MP. He is a kind of a loan wolf and is very anti-LGBT.
‘It appeared, to everyone’s surprise, on the agenda only yesterday (10 November) and they are having the final hearing tomorrow (12 November). So we are very worried about it.’
If Gražulis does win a majority, the new law could still be blocked by President Dalia Grybauskaitė. She may be prepared to use her veto because it would go against EU law.
However, Zabarauskas thinks the debate may be postponed again.
The latest version of the legislation, Bill XIP 4490(3), is not the first time the issue came up.
In a statement about the bill, campaign organization ILGA-Europe points out similar legislation was initially discussed in September 2013. The issue came up again in 2014 when it was debated but then vanished from the agenda. Until now.
ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis said: ‘Their politicians need to uphold the human rights laws they have promised to defend, in particular their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.’