In Russia’s shadow, LGBTQ people across the Baltics fight for their rights.

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06/07/2022

Surrounded by thousands of people wearing rainbow flags, glitter and sparkly outfits, Eddie Balčiūnaitė prepared to take part in one of the biggest marches the Baltic countries have ever seen. The 21-year-old nonbinary Lithuanian grew up in a country that since 2009 has banned sharing information that “expresses contempt for family values (or) encourages … entry into a marriage and creation of a family other than stipulated in the Constitution.” Dubbed the “gay propaganda” law by its critics, the ban even preceded Russia’s 2013 infamous legislation. “The first time I heard about queer people was in the church, so it wasn’t a very positive portrayal, as you can imagine,” Balčiūnaitė, who uses he/she/they pronouns, told NBC News. “You Google stuff, you talk to your friends, and hopefully you learn something about yourself — but not with the help of the school or your teacher.”

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