Lithuanian Gay Pride is Off Again, On Again

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday May 7, 2010

Lithuania's first Gay Pride has been cleared by an appeals court to go forward in a decision that reverses a lower court's earlier ruling.

The May 7 ruling followed international criticism of the event's cancellation following a court decision on May 5 that saw the planned event banned because of fears that anti-gay protestors might get violent, the Associated Press reported.

The event is set to proceed on May 8 in Vilnius, which is the nation's capital. The Associated Press reported that more anti-gay protesters are expected to show up for the event than participants; even so, the Supreme Administration Court ruled that the minority groups are entitled to freedom of expression and assembly, including "those who share unpopular points of view," the article said.

Like other former Soviet countries where homophobia is deeply entrenched, such as Poland, Lithuania is predominantly Catholic. Social attitudes toward gays tend to pathologize them; a survey conducted four years ago found that 80% of Lithuanians regard homosexuality as a form of illness.

Stanislovas Buskevicius, a member of the city council of Kaunas, protested the event on moral grounds, saying that a Pride march "would offend the values dear to Lithuania--decency, fidelity, fertility, human dignity."

Raimondas Petrauskas, the Lithuanian interim Attorney General, had sought to have the event canceled out of concern for public safety, reported anti-gay religious website on May 6. "I have only one argument--maintaining public order," said Petrauskas. "In case there's a threat to people's wellbeing and public security, the permit should not be given." Added Petrauskas, "We have to weigh [the] peaceful march against public order and wellbeing."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.