Lithuania’s Parliament hosts LGBT art exhibit as city hall lights up rainbow
Lithuania’s Parliament marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia this week.
Marked on May 17 around the world, IDAHOT raises awareness of persecution and hate crimes faced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender people around the world.
The day is heavily marked in countries that are already progressive on LGBT rights, but it is also making inroads in places where there is still a way to go on LGBT equality.
Lithuania has lagged behind on equality, with no legal recognition for same-sex couples, no gender recognition for transgender people, a ban on same-sex adoption, and generally negative social attitudes.
However, progress is slowly being made, and the day was marked this week with celebrations in the country’s Parliament in Vilnius.
The Parliamentary gallery hosted an exhibition of photos featuring LGBT Lithuanians, taken by artist Samanta Matuizaitė, known as ARCANA FEMINA.
The exhibition depicted Auris Jarašūnas, who married his same-sex partner in the US, Lithuanian trans man Oskaras Česynas, and Chairman of the Lithuanian World Community Commission Rimvydas Baltaduonis.
A release explained: “These people differ in their professions and circumstances, but are united by their wish to lead an open and dignified life.
“”While Lithuania still struggles to change discriminatory legislation, the LGBT+ community are becoming more open every day, and the broader civic society is becoming more open and accepting.
“The organisers of this LGBT+ exhibition hope that this too will help to change homophobic and transphobic tendencies in Parliament as well as in broader Lithuanian society.”
Liberal MP Aušrinė Armonaitė, who organised the exhibition, said: “I hope the exhibition will encourage Members of Parliament and the general public to hear the concerns of the LGBT+ community, including widespread bullying, the absence of the institute of same-sex partnership, as well as the many discriminatory initiatives that have been tabled in Parliament for so many years.”
Elsewhere in the capital, Vilnius Town Hall was lit up in rainbow colours “to demonstrate that Vilnius is an open and tolerant European city”.
Lithuania’s LGBT rights organisation LGL said: “The guests of the event were welcomed by Vladimir Simonko, Executive Director of LGL, Agneta Skardžiuvienė, the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson of the Republic of Lithuania, Remigijus Šimašius, Vilnius City Mayor, Darius Skusevičius, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, and H. E. Anne Hall, U.S. ambassador to Lithuania.
— IDAHOT (@may17IDAHOT) May 12, 2017
“The event was attended by MPs, representatives of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, Vilnius City Municipality, foreign diplomatic missions in Lithuania, non-governmental organizations and members of the local LGBT* community”.
Last year the Mayor of Lithuania’s capital city offered his support to the previously-banned Baltic Pride
In a statement far from previous attitudes to Pride, the city’s Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, has issued a message of love and support for those attending the festivities.
He says: “Dear participants of Baltic Pride, I welcome you to Vilnius.
“Diversity has always been the most important feature of the city. Everyone is welcome here, irrespective of sexuality, race, age, nationality and other features.”