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Lithuanian President Against Gay Speech In Schools Ban

Lithuania's incoming president on Thursday criticized a bill approved by lawmakers that bans gay speech in schools, the AP reported.

Dalia Grybauskaite spoke out against the bill: “I'm very much upset that such kind of laws in Lithuania are possible,” she told reporters at a news conference in Stockholm, where she appeared with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

The bill prohibits schools from discussing being gay and bans any reference to homosexuality where it might be viewed by children.

“The amendment denies the right to freedom of expression and deprives students access to the support and protection they may need,” said Nicola Duckworth of the human rights groups Amnesty International.

Lawmakers first approved the law in June but it was vetoed by Grybauskaite's predecessor, President Valdas Adamkus. On Tuesday, lawmakers managed to overturn the Adamkus' veto, meaning the new president must sign it into law.

“But I have a tool,” she said. “This tool is the possibility to come with a proposal for [an] amendment of the law.”

Lithuania similarly bans issues such as the portrayal of physical or psychological violence, the display of a dead or cruelly mutilated body of a person, and information that arouses fear or horror, or encourages self-mutilation or suicide, Amnesty International said.

The bill bans information that “agitates for homosexual, bisexual relations or polygamy,” calling such information detrimental to youth. Critics said the bill's broad language effectively bans any discussion of homosexuality except in a negative context, effectively legislating homophobia.

"This legislation is homophobic discrimination,” British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell told PinkNews.co.uk. “As such, it clearly violates the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It also violates the equality and anti-discrimination clauses of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

"Lithuania has signed up to these international humanitarian declarations but it is now defying them. It wants the rights of EU and UN membership, but not the responsibilities. Lithuania has no right to belong to European institutions if it violates their human rights principles," he added.

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Posted in: News by SoulRiser on July 21, 2009 @ 11:19 AM

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