Gay people in Lithuania have expressed concern that a new law will lead to a ban on gay activities.

The Lithuanian parliament accepted amendments to the law on the protection of minors last week.

One asserts that “a detrimental effect on the development of minors” is caused by “public information that agitates for homosexual relations” that “defies family values.”

LGBT advocacy group Tolerant Youth Association (TJA) said:

“Neither agitation nor family values are defined in the newly approved law proposal, therefore it would allow to put a ban on basically any non-negative information on homosexuality.

“It would be possible not only to ban websites and films (e.g. Brokeback Mountain) positively presenting homosexual relations, but also discos, exhibitions, demonstrations and other public events related to homosexuality if these could be accessed by minors.

“The law proposal has caused many discussions in the Parliament. Conservatives Edmundas Pupinis, Rytas Kupcinskas and Paulius Saudargas maintained that only a ban and control is not enough.

“MP E.Pupinis proposed to make it possible for any citizens to report inappropriate film productions. While MP P.Saudargas suggested to force IT sellers to propose anyone buying a computer also to obtain devices filtering harmful information, and stressed that it is necessary to limit an access to inappropriate information not only in public but also at home.”

The proposed legislation is expected to be adopted next year but will go before a Parliamentary committee first.

In October Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas said:

“Lithuania is one of the most homophobic countries in the EU. This has to be viewed as a fact.

“The situation cannot be changed by any one party or minister.”

Mr Vaitiekunas added that it would take a generational change before attitudes were different.

At present gay people are barred from holding Pride marches by the authorities in the capital Vilnius.

In April the Council of Europe formally expressed concern over the situation in the country for the first time since it broke from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Twice last year gay activists were banned from displaying the rainbow flag, an international symbol of gay rights.

In May 2007 the Mayor of Vilnius refused to give permission for an anti-discrimination truck tour to visit the city.

The truck was part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All campaign, but Mayor Imbrasas claimed it could cause a security risk and riots.

A large majority of the Lithuanian population are Roman Catholics, and the church is openly hostile the rights of sexual minorities.

A law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment was passed in 2004, as an obligation for acceptance into the European Union.