Amnesty International today called on its 2.2 million members worldwide to address the rising tide of homophobia in Lithuania.

The EU country has seen a rising tide of open homophobia in recent months.

In May the mayor of the capital Vilnius refused to give permission for an EU anti-discrimination truck tour to visit and Lithuanian bus drivers refused to drive buses bearing ads which promoted tolerance towards gay people.

A poll last December found that only 17% of Lithuanians support gay marriage.

Last month ILGA Europe chose to hold its conference in Lithuania to highlight the prejudice gay people face in the country.

A public event was banned by the city authorities on the grounds of public safety.

Amnesty International said today:

“To persecute people for their sexual orientation is to violate their fundamental human rights.

“Amnesty International calls on the Lithuanian authorities to respect the right to peaceful freedom of assembly for all, the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation and to actively promote respect for diversity in their country.

“The Lithuanian authorities also need to offer adequate police protection to the country’s gay community.”

Amnesty has asked its members to write to the country’s Minister of the Interior, Raimondas Sukys, and the Mayor of Vilnius, Juozas Imbrasas to voice their concerns.