A liberal democrat politician in Lithuania has taken a stand against homophobia in the country by resigning from her party.
MP Marija Aušrine Povilioniene announced at a press conference in Vilnius today that she is leaving the Order Justice party, formerly the Liberal Democratic party.
“The Liberal democrat group in the Parliament and party itself are homophobic, this is the reason I resign from it,” she said.
“Human rights are more important to me than party dogmas.”
The Mayor of Vilnius, who is a member of Order Justice, yesterday backed city transport workers refusing to drive trolley buses carrying adverts asking for tolerance towards gay people.
Ms Povilioniene accused the Lithuanian authorities of using gay hate rhetoric to attract voters in the conservative former Soviet Republic.
She said that human rights are not seen as a universal rights in Lithuania.
In February a poll of members of the country’s parliament revealed that over half of them agree that homosexuality is a perversion.
The survey reflected a deeply ingrained homophobia in Lithuanian society. Homosexual sex was legalised in Lithuania in 1993.
When asked: “Do you support the position of the Lithuanian Catholic Church, that homosexuality is a perversion?” 89 out of 141 members of parliament (Seimas) answered yes.
The leader of the Order Justice party, Rolandas Paksas, was President of Lithuania for 14 months before becoming one of only two leaders in the EU ever to be impeached in 2004.
He accused the Lithuanian Gay League of propaganda when they drew attention to discrimination against LGBT people.
“I think, that any sort of public gay parades are nothing else than shameless desire to give some prominence to themselves and raise their problems above the society’s.
“Even worse, this is an impudent attempt to distract people’s attention from the really important matters and I wouldn’t eliminate the idea that these actions could be inspired by some concerned high level ‘statesmen.'”
A Pride event is planned for the May 25th in the central square of Vilnius.