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Lithuania’s parliament passes ‘Section 28-style’ law to ban homosexuality in schools

Jessica Geen July 14, 2009
The Mayor of Lithuania

The Mayor of Vilnius has previously offered his support for LGBT rights

The Lithuanian parliament today voted to pass a law that bans information on homosexuality in schools or in media accessible by young people.

The law, titled ‘Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information’, includes “the propaganda of homosexuality [or] bisexuality” as a detrimental factor on young people.

It has been compared to Section 28, the law which prohibited discussion of homsexuality in UK schools.

In June, President Adamkus vetoed the law, but parliament has the power to override him and did so today with a vote of 87-6. It is expected the law will come into force on march 1st.

The news has been met with dismay by human rights and gay campaigners, who have called for the law to be repealed.

Amnesty International UK’s LGBT campaigner Kim Manning-Cooper said:”This is a very bad day for LGBT rights in Lithuania. By adopting this deeply homophobic legislation, the Lithuanian authorities have taken a huge step backwards.

“This law is a clear infringement of freedom of expression and non-discrimination rights and should be repealed immediately.”

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill described the move as a “tragedy”.

He said: “By stigmatising gay people as it did, Section 28 did significant and lasting damage to countless thousands of young people in this country. It is deeply worrying that a similar tragedy is being perpetrated in Lithuania in 2009.”

Section 28 was introduced by former Conservative leader Michael Howard when he was local government minister in 1988. In 2002, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern about the law.

It was repealed first in Scotland in 2000 and finally for the rest of the UK in 2003. Howard later expressed his regret in his role of passing the discriminatory law.

More: Europe

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