Article published on Jan. 15, 2014
Article published on Jan. 15, 2014

The second part of Judith Sinnige's report on homophobia in Lithuania

In a coun­try where 80% of the pop­u­la­tion is Catholic, the Church has a con­sid­er­able in­flu­ence over the lives of ho­mo­sex­u­als in Lithua­nia. 'Last year on two oc­ca­sions the Church called for fac­ul­ties of med­i­cine to stop teach­ing about IVF treat­ment and abor­tion,' Mar­ija Pavil­ion­ienė tells us, a lec­turer and a fem­i­nist. Fur­ther­more, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Church can reg­u­larly be found in Par­lia­men­tary tri­bunals where they med­dle in eth­i­cal dis­cus­sions. 'Dur­ing the 2008 elec­tions some churches stuck posters on their walls of ‘black listed’ can­di­dates who must not be voted for. My name was on that list,' adds Pavil­ion­ienė. 'It’s com­pletely il­le­gal. It’s a country where there is supposed to be a sep­a­ra­tion between the Church and the State!' 

the prin­ci­ple of non dis­crim­i­na­tion

The media don’t ex­actly help the sit­u­a­tion. Al­most all news­pa­pers are openly anti-gay. 'They mock ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and speak about it in a vul­gar way,' says Pavil­ion­ienė. 'They do it to at­tract read­ers.' Jour­nal­ist Min­dau­gas Jack­evičius con­firms this at­ti­tude on his news site Delfi. 'Gen­er­ally the way the media speak about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is based on stereo­types and the imag­i­nary threat it poses such as being a dan­ger to tra­di­tional fam­ily val­ues.' Also, ‘Gražulis' jeans’ (please refer to the first part of our re­port) were greatly ap­pre­ci­ated by the Lithuan­ian media. Delfi was the only news site to con­demn his ac­tions, de­scrib­ing GražulisGražulisGražulisGražulisGražulisGražulisvvGražulis as 'an em­bar­rass­ment to Lithua­nia', Jack­evičius tells us. Si­monko re­minds us that, 'Lithua­nia is close to Rus­sia where there is real hys­te­ria to­wards ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. In Lithua­nia we also pick up sev­eral Russ­ian TV chan­nels, many peo­ple un­der­stand Russ­ian here, so we don’t hear many pos­i­tive perspectives on ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity,' he ex­plains. 

What can Eu­rope do for Lithua­nia, one of its mem­ber states since 2004? The prin­ci­pal of non-dis­crim­i­na­tion is an im­por­tant el­e­ment of Eu­ro­pean leg­is­la­tion. The Treaty of the Eu­ro­pean Union as well as the Char­ter of Fun­da­men­tal Rights of the Eu­ro­pean Union re­ject dis­crim­i­na­tion on the base of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. De­spite this, the rights of ho­mo­sex­u­als do not seem to be mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. In this con­text, mil­i­tant Juris Lavrikovs be­lieves that the EU is 'blind' to ho­mo­pho­bia Lithua­nia. In a col­umn pub­lished in EU­ob­server, he claims that the EU does not have the legal in­stru­ments to rep­ri­mand a coun­try vi­o­lat­ing these rights, nor a re­al­is­tic strat­egy for Mem­ber States even though such a strat­egy ex­ists for the found­ing coun­tries. Si­monko also re­grets the sit­u­a­tion: 'Two years ago I did an in­ter­view with Vi­viane Red­ing (Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion­er for Jus­tice, Eu­ropan Rights and Cit­i­zen­ship). She promised to keep a close eye on the sit­u­a­tion in Lithua­nia, but hasn't take any ac­tion.' Ahead of the East­ern Part­ner­ship Sum­mit, held at the end of No­vem­ber in Vil­nius, the EU, under the Lithuan­ian Pres­i­dency, put pres­sure on Ukraine to com­bat the dis­crim­i­na­tion against ho­mo­sex­u­als, yet the sit­u­a­tion in Lithua­nia is hardly any bet­ter.

lithua­nia's at­ti­tude is hypocry­t­i­cal

It was only in Oc­to­ber 2013 that the Lithuan­ian Gov­ern­ment stopped op­pos­ing the anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion di­rec­tive put in place by the EU in 2008 to com­ple­ment the ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion. For the past 3 years Lithua­nia has op­posed  this leg­is­la­tion but  when it took on the EU Pres­i­dency, it was dif­fi­cult for it to main­tain its op­po­si­tion. 'It’s hyp­o­crit­i­cal,' says Si­monko. So what does Gražulis have to say about all this ? He thinks that the EU is to blame for 'dic­tat­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity to us' and for, 'steal­ing the souls of our peo­ple. The EU will end up col­laps­ing be­cause of it, it’s just a mat­ter of time.'

read the first part of our re­port here

Tous pro­pos re­cueil­lis par Ju­dith Sin­nige