Lithuania’s ‘gay propaganda’ law looms over fight for same-sex unions

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10/14/2021

VILNIUS, Oct 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As the target of constant homophobic abuse as a teenager, Rimas Prokopovicius rarely heard anything positive about gay people when he was growing up in a provincial city in northern Lithuania. Like many young LGBT+ people in the Baltic state, a member of the European Union since 2004, he blames the country’s “gay propaganda” law. While the 2009 legislation has not been enforced in recent years, LGBT+ rights campaigners say it legitimises homophobic attitudes, curbs free speech and is hampering their fight for same-sex civil partnerships to be legalised. “I’d really like to see the law (overturned) … Because, thinking about myself as a child, it was extremely hard to live with parents that don’t really accept you, then going to a school that is very intolerant,” said Prokopovicius, 21. “It was pretty rough. I was bullied a lot,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in the capital, Vilnius, where he studies molecular biology. Dubbed the “gay propaganda” law by critics, the Lithuanian legislation bans sharing information with under-18s that “expresses contempt for family values (or) encourages … entry into a marriage and creation of a family other than stipulated in the Constitution”. Supporters of the measure say it helps protect traditional family values. Despite an outcry over similar legislation implemented recently in Hungary, the law has not received the same global attention.

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