European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

EU anti-discrimination truck is not welcomed by mayors of two Lithuanian cities

This year, the EU anti-discrimination truck is calling in two Lithuanian cities, Vilnius (20 August) and Kaunas (22 August). The mayors of both cities have refused to allow the truck on their municipal territories.

The European Commission, on behalf of which the truck tour is organised, has had to compromise and display the truck on private territories on supermarkets. Last year, for the first time in its history, the truck was banned by one of EU member states – Lithuania. The mayor of Vilnius refused to allow the truck into the city claiming that participation of LGBT activists would be ‘propaganda of homosexuality’.

The EU “For Diversity. Against Discrimination.” truck is travelling around Europe to promote diversity, tolerance and raising awareness about EU legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender, disability, age, religion/belief, race/ethnicity and sexual orientation. While stopping in various destinations across Europe, it engages locals to learn more about EU anti-discrimination laws, co-operate with local organisations representing various groups protected from discrimination, it also facilitates debates, exhibitions concerts and competitions.

This year, Juozas Imbrasas, the mayor of Vilnius repeatedly refused permission for the tuck to be displayed on his municipal territory. Also Andrius Kupčinskas, Mayor of Kaunas, said that the ‘homosexual festival may cause many negative emotions’.

This year a compromise has been reached between the European Commission and the Lithuanian partners, and the truck is going to be displayed and available to the general public on private territories at supermarkets in Vilnius and Kaunas. While being satisfied that this year the truck is not being prevented from stopping in Lithuania, ILGA-Europe and Lithuania Gay League are disappointed that the mayors of two major Lithuanian cities have once again demonstrated ignorance and disrespect of the EU anti-discrimination principles and legislation. ILGA-Europe and LGL are also disappointed that the European Commission has agreed on a compromise between the municipal and private territory.

Deborah Lambillotte, Co-Chair of Executive Board, said:

“While welcoming the fact that the truck will be able to enter Lithuania and to deliver the messages of tolerance, diversity and respect to the people of that country, we regret that the European Commission had to agree on a compromise of a private supermarket territory. We believe that such a compromise might send out a wrong message and be interpreted by some as a lack of principles and firmness by the European Commission when it comes to EU anti-discrimination legislation and principles. The resistance and disrespect towards this legislation and these principles by the Lithuanian mayors is yet another proof that the Commission needs to take an uncompromising leading role and to ensure that all EU member states and their authorities, including cities, are compliant with and respectful of EU principles and its laws.”

Vladimir Simonko, Chair of Lithuanian Gay League, said:

“We know that it takes time to build a non-homophobic, tolerant and inclusive society. Major European cities are mainstreaming equality by holding numerous public events including LGBT Prides. Unfortunately, it is not a practice in two main Lithuanian cities, which refuse to embrace such an important anti-discrimination information campaign. Furthermore, the mayors of Vilnius and Kaunas are sending a clear message that LGBT people are still not welcome in their diverse communities and are creating some kind of 21st century apartheid. Homosexuals who find it impossible to live in such a situation are forced to emigrate to more tolerant European cities.”

For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe: www.ilga-europe.org

(2) LGL is the Lithuanian Gay League: www.lgl.lt

(3) Further information about the EU anti-discrimination truck tour on www.trucktour.info