Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion: Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received, A/HRC/14/23/Add.1, 1 June 2010: Lithuania
1400. On 16 July 2009, the Special Rapporteur, together with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, sent an urgent appeal to the Government regarding the adoption of the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information.
1401. According to information received, on 14 July 2009, the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) voted to adopt the “Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information”. The legislation had initially been passed by the Seimas on 16 June only to be vetoed by former President Valdas Adamkus one week later. The Presidential veto was overturned by a majority vote of 87 representatives. The law takes effect after the new President Ms. Dalia Grybauskaite signs it into law, which she is reportedly required to do within three days.
1402. The “Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information” seeks to ban public dissemination of information considered harmful to the mental health or the intellectual and moral development of minors. It would also ban all materials that “agitate for homosexual, bisexual and polygamous relations” from schools or other public places where they can be seen by youth.
1403. The Law classifies public information about homosexuality and bisexuality in the same category as other prohibited material, such as that which portrays physical or psychological violence and graphic depictions of dead bodies.
1404. In December 2008, a joint statement on human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity, was presented by 66 States, including Lithuania, at the United Nations General Assembly. The statement called upon other States to promote and protect the human rights of all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and to remove obstacles that prevent human rights defenders from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.
1405. Concern was expressed that the aforementioned legislation may result in limiting the right of freedom of expression in Lithuania. Further concern was expressed that the law could be applied to limit the legitimate work of human rights defenders, particularly those working to defend the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in the country.
Response from the Government
1406. In a letter dated 11 September 2009, the Government responded to the communication sent on 16 July 2009. The Government transmitted the response of the Ministry of Culture of Lithuania as follows.
1414. The Special Rapporteur wishes to thank the Government for the detailed response transmitted.
Link to the full text of the urgent appeal: Summary of cases-SR Freedom of Expression-Lithuania-2010-eng
Link to full text of the report: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.23.Add.1_AV.pdf