BHA urges Lithuanian President to veto anti-gay law

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today written to the President of Lithuania, urging him to veto new legislation that infringes on freedom of speech, expression and information and enshrines in law hatred and discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Lithuania. The new law would make it illegal for anybody to distribute information on homosexuality through any medium to which children might have access.

In the letter, Hanne Stinson, BHA Chief Executive, compares the new law to ‘Section 28’ in the UK, which was repealed in 2003, and which placed restrictions on local authorities from promoting or providing information about homosexuality. ‘Section 28’ was condemned by humanist organisations nationally and internationally.

Letter to the President of Lithuania

Dear Mr President

I write on behalf of the British Humanist Association, the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK.

We appeal to you, as you come to the end of your term of office as President, to veto the so-called Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information. The law passed by the Seimas on 16 June includes many admirable provisions, but it would also enshrine in the law of the land hatred of and discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

There can be no doubt that the law would violate your country’s obligations under international and European law, which gives ample reason for you to exercise your veto. It also contradicts the joint statement that Lithuania signed at the UN General Assembly in December 2008, which reaffirmed that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

I am ashamed to say that a similar law was passed in the United Kingdom in 1988 and remained on the statute until it was repealed in September 2003. In the interim it caused great suffering and seriously damaged the reputation of the country. The same results can be expected of your new law if you sign it.

Your veto on this law in your last days before retiring from the Presidency would be a signal service to Lithuania. However controversial in the short term, it would have great educational effect and would be recognised in the long term as a stand for human rights, understanding and tolerance.

Yours sincerely

Hanne Stinson
Chief Executive
British Humanist Association

Notes

For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips on 020 7079 3585.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief. It is the largest organisation in the UK working for a secular state.