An arsonist attacked Lithuania LGBT rights group’s office this morning (10 August).
Police are investigating after the Lithuania Gay League (LGL office door was set aflame by an unknown arsonist in Vilnius.
The arsonist used an unknown flammable substance to set the exterior door and blinds on fire.
A taxi driver noticed the flames while driving by. He used a portable fire extinguisher before the emergency services arrived.
Lithuania LGBT rights group attacked by arsonist
LGL communications coordinator Eglė Kuktoraitė told Gay Star News she walked into the office this morning, noticing the blackened door.
She said: ‘We hope police will recognize that this is obviously a hate crime.
‘We have rainbow flags on our windows. We have a rainbow crosswalk by our office. It definitely wasn’t random.
‘It happened at 4am when there’s not a lot of people in the street.’
‘It’s very strange for me because it’s 2018 already,’ Kuktoraitė said.
She said it’s important police treat it as a hate crime because they typically address homophobic incidents as ‘hooliganism’.
‘This was done out of hatred,’ she said, plainly.
Standing ‘proud and strong’ after arson attack
On Facebook, LGL wrote they were standing ‘proud and strong’ after the attack.
‘We don’t want the haters to think they will stop us,’ .Kuktoraitė said. ‘We will carry on with what we do.’
Vladimir Simonko, executive director of LGL, agreed in his statement.
‘This incident clearly indicates that hate crimes on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity remain an important issue in Lithuania,’ he said.
He then said: ‘It is disappointing to see that such horrific crimes still take place in 2018 in the heart of our beautiful capital Vilnius.’
A police spokesperson has now said the pre-trial investigation was qualified as an act of vandalism. He confirmed he was not familiar with the concept of ‘hate crimes’.
Lithuania refuses to recognize same-sex couples
In 2017, Lithuania politicians voted against a proposal that would have recognized same-sex couples.
The parliament voted on a proposal to amend Lithuania’s Civil Code to give legal status to all couple regardless of gender.
59 MPs voted against the proposal, 20 abstained and 29 voted in favour.
‘Recognition of the legal status of both different-sex and same-sex couples would send a clear signal that we are a modern Western country and we do not classify our citizens,’ said MP Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen during a parliamentary hearing.
‘We need to respect the dignity of Lithuanian citizens and acknowledge with their legitimate expectations.’
Activists considered this progress.
‘We consider this vote as a victory. Despite the fact that the overall proposal was rejected, the support for same-sex families is slowly gaining its momentum in the Lithuanian Parliament,’ said LGL’s executive director.