Baltic Pride Suspended

balticprideNews in today is that the Baltic Pride Festival March has been suspended pending the outcome of a court case. From the Baltic Pride facebook:

Wednesday morning Vilnius District Administrative Court announced it will concider the request by interim Attorney General Raimondas Petrauskas and member of Kaunas city council Stanislovas Buskevicius to revoke the permit of Vilnius municipality to hold LGBT march “For Equality”.

Until the verdict is reached, the court suspended the permit as a temporary security measure.

Mr Petrauskas filed the request on Monday, quoting security issues as the basis to ban the main event of “Baltic Pride Vilnius 2010.”

“I have only one argument – maintaining public order. In case there’s a threat to people’s wellbeing and public security, the permit should not be given,” said Attorney General.

He claimed having received official information – that is currently classified – from operational services. “We have to weight peaceful march against public order and wellbeing. We could, of course, fence the area and guard so tha no one approaches it, but first, people have to come and leave it somehow,” said Mr Petrauskas.

He admits that his request might make Lithuania look homophobic, “but how will we look if there are reports about violence and other phenomena.”

The interim Attorney General claims to have information that radical and violent groups are organizing protests and provocations against the marchers.

“We have reason to believe that the state will not be able to provide proper protection for the participants in the intended location, i.e., streets of Vilnius,” – he claims in the request, asking to cancel the decision of Vilnius municipal authority to grant the permit for the march scheduled for 8 May.

The court also received a similar request from a member of Kaunas City Council Stanislovas Buskevicius, who claims that the march “would offend the values dear to Lithuania – decency, fidelity, fertility, human dignity.” According to politician, the state should not embrace the life style that goes against the values of the majority.

The organizers of “Baltic Pride” also filed a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office against its current head. Mr Petrauskas is seeking to influence their will and free choice in order to stop them from exercising their right to peaceful assembly, claim LGL chairman Vladimiras Simonko, Eduardas Platovas and Vytautas Valentinavicius.

According to them, Attorney General is abusing his power to “exert illegal pressure” without pointing out concrete breaches to public interest.

Please support the festival. Follow the news on Facebook and sign the Amnesty International Petition!

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Baltic Pride

More astute readers of the blog will notice the new advert on the top of the blog. This is to support one of the Campaigns of Amnesty International Denmark.

Next Saturday May 8th Baltic Pride is set take place in Vilnius, Lithuania. This will be the first Pride in Vilnius. So why is there a campaign?

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the Baltic States are facing obstacles to holding their annual Pride march in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Amnesty International calls for the Pride march to be held in safety and in full respect of freedom of expression and assembly.

On Saturday 8 May, Lithuania is set to host the 2010 Baltic Pride which celebrates diversity and champions human rights.  It will be the first ever Pride event to take place in Lithuania.

However, LGBT people in Lithuania are still subject to discrimination and intolerance, and the Lithuanian authorities have cancelled all previously planned public LGBT events in the country.

Pressure is mounting on the Vilnius City Council to revoke its authorization of the 2010 Baltic Pride march.  There are still concerns that the necessary security arrangements will not be put in place by the Vilnius Police.

Show your support for the 2010 Baltic Pride and demand that LGBT people’s rights to freedom of expression and assembly are respected and protected in Lithuania.

Pride Parades took place in Riga in neighbouring Latvia in 2008 and 2009 and there were protests against these events. Please sign the petition to the Lithuanian President to ensure that this march goes ahead safely.

UPDATE: the interim AG in Lithuania has today lodged an appeal to have the parade banned on security threat grounds and has sought to have  permission repealed. The case is to be heart tomorow in the civil court with judgement expected by 12 noon local time. Amnesty Press Release with full details More on this when I get it!

UPDATE 2: ILGA-Europe, the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights and Amnesty International have also issued a joint Press Release on the issue

thanks to John James Hickey on FB for the post and updates

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