Court says gay students kissing each other is ‘eccentric behaviour’
A court in Lithuania has told gay students who received a barrage of violent threats after they posted a photo of them kissing that they should have “anticipated” that they would be abused by posting such an act.
The District Court of Klaipeda City on 28 January passed an order dismissing a complaint made by LGBT rights organisation LGL on behalf of the students who posted the photo to Facebook.
The court said anyone who posts a gay kiss photo on social media publicly “has to anticipate that such an eccentric act would clearly discourage the common understanding and tolerance amongst people in our society who have different views and opinions”
The original complaint was submitted in December that the students who uploaded the photo received a large volume of abuse online, which the charity said incited hatred, mockery, humiliation and discrimination, as well as encouraging physical abuse against gay people.
The LGL alleged that the abuse violated the Criminal Code of Lithuania, as well as the Law on Provision of Information to the Public of the country.
Commenting on the violent nature of the abuse, including calling for the students to be “burnt,” “destroyed,” and to have their heads “smashed”, the Board Chair of LGL Vladimir Simonko said the comments incited violence against LGBT people.
Despite that the complaint was passed on to Klaipeda’s Regional Prosecutor Office, the comments were nere subjected to a pre-trial investigation, because the individual commentators “used inappropriate words to express disapproval to homosexual relationships. However, the use of swear words is not a basis for criminal responsibility”.
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The conclusion of the ruling by the court this week said: “A person who publishes private information on a social network, practices the freedom of expression, has to take into account the fact that freedom is inseparable from the obligation to respect other people’s beliefs and traditions”.
The LGL has said it will appeal against the ruling.