baltics / homophobia / legislation / lithuania

Lithuanian government disapproves of easing hate speech rules

According to the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL), the Lithuanian Cabinet has expressed its disapproval of a parliamentary initiative that would remove sanctions for “criticism or discussion” of sexual behavior, sexual practices or beliefs.

An amendment to Lithuania’s criminal code to redefine what constitutes discriminatory speech or incitement of hatred was officially registered in parliament on September 12 by a group of nine legislators from six parties, including the ruling Social Democratic coalition. The proposal would, among other provisions, remove sanctions for efforts to “change behaviors, practices, beliefs and opinions” associated with sexual orientation.

Supporters of the amendment, which is still under consideration, claim they are attempting to protect the constitutional right to freedom of expression. The Lithuanian Cabinet issued a negative opinion of the proposal on October 17.

Current Lithuanian law establishes criminal liability for persons whose public statements seek to “insult, ridicule, incite hatred for or discrimination of groups of persons because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, language, origin, social status, religion, beliefs or views.”

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