Viewing cable 07VILNIUS395
Title: ANTI-GAY RALLY IN VILNIUS DRAWS EU'S ATTENTION

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07VILNIUS3952007-06-01 14:43:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXRO2818
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHVL #0395/01 1521443
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 011443Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1325
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000395 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/31/2017 
TAGS: PHUM LH
SUBJECT: ANTI-GAY RALLY IN VILNIUS DRAWS EU'S ATTENTION 
 
 
Classified By: Political/Economic Section Chief Rebecca Dunham for reas 
on 1.4 (d) 
 
¶1. (U) Summary:  An anti-homosexual rally in downtown Vilnius 
on May 25, originally planned to coincide with a 
pro-diversity rally, drew a small, non-violent crowd.  The 
City of Vilnius' decision to prevent the European 
Commission-sponsored pro-diversity and gay pride rally from 
taking place has drawn fire from the EU and western 
institutions, including rumored threats of withdrawing a 
planned Gender Equality Institute from Vilnius.  End summary. 
 
 
Anti-gay Protest Eclipses Anti-discrimination Event 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
¶2. (U) A group calling itself "For Morals and Nation" 
organized an unauthorized anti-homosexual rally in the public 
square in front of the government offices in downtown Vilnius 
on Friday May 25.  Information about the demonstration was 
circulated via the internet and flyers with a graphic 
anti-gay logo (also used by anti-gay protestors in Riga) 
announcing plans for the demonstration were posted around the 
city.  Approximately ten participants, mostly teenagers and 
young adults, wore white t-shirts bearing the same anti-gay 
logo and passed out flyers labeled "Resist Homosexual 
Propaganda."  Towards the end of the rally the organizers 
raised a large Lithuanian flag and chanted "Lithuania."  The 
stated goal of the group, which is an informal affiliation of 
citizens "fighting to preserve the institute of family," was 
to protest pro-homosexual "propaganda" and public declaration 
of homosexuality, which they claim will corrupt children. 
One participant was overheard explaining that he was 
exercising his right to free speech and trying to protect 
children by passing out the flyers.  Embassy observers 
estimated that less than fifty people showed up deliberately 
for the rally; however, the normal lunch time crowd made it 
difficult to identify participants from passersby.  One local 
television station covered the event.  A member of the For 
Morals and Nation Group and President of the Lithuanian 
Nationalist Union, Marius Kundrotas, told local press that 
the group had "already succeeded" in keeping homosexuals from 
holding a public demonstration.  The event passed without 
incident. 
 
¶3. (U) The anti-gay demonstration was originally planned as a 
counter-rally to coincide with a European 
Commission-sponsored event titled "For Diversity, Against 
Discrimination".  The centerpiece of the EC event would have 
been a pro-diversity trailer designed to spread information 
about tolerance and equal opportunities around Europe.  The 
Lithuanian Gay League had planned to participate and hold up 
a thirty-meter-long rainbow flag in the square.  Vilnius 
Mayor Juozas Imbrasas publicly expressed opposition to the 
pro-diversity event.  Vilnius city officials subsequently 
refused to issue a permit to the EC pro-diversity and 
gay-pride demonstration, claiming that the anti-homosexual 
rally could lead to outbreaks of violence.  The Lithuanian 
Gay League NGO stated they would respect the decision of the 
City and held two smaller, indoor gay-pride events on May 24 
and 25 instead.  NGO Members told Embassy officials that they 
were considering legal action against the city, but still had 
approximately 30 days to decide whether or not to bring the 
issue to court. 
 
EU Distressed, Weighing Response 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶4. (U) After the City of Vilnius refused to issue a permit 
for the pro-diversity event, the European Commission released 
a statement condemning the decision.  The EC highlighted that 
this was the first time in the four years that the EC 
pro-diversity trailer has been on tour that an event has been 
canceled by local authorities.  Other European institutions 
quickly echoed the condemnation; Council of Europe Human 
Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg urged Vilnius to 
reconsider its decision and foster "the freedom of meetings 
for all citizens" as required under the European Convention 
on Human Rights.  The Lithuanian Equal Opportunities 
Ombudsman's Office has initiated an investigation into 
whether the Vilnius Municipality had any legal grounds for 
prohibiting the pro-diversity event. 
 
¶5. (U) Lithuania was granted the right to host the European 
Gender Equality Institute by the European Parliament in 2006. 
 This development delighted Lithuanian elites still excited 
about Lithuania's accession to the EU in 2004.  The Institute 
is supposed to be established later this year, and would be 
the first EU institute in Lithuania.  Following the decision 
not to allow the pro-diversity event, there was media 
speculation that Lithuania might lose this privilege, 
including a comment by Giedre Purvaneckiene, an advisor to 
the Prime Minister, who said that the European Commission is 
 
VILNIUS 00000395  002 OF 002 
 
 
reconsidering the decision to establish the Institute in 
Vilnius. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶6. (C) The Vilniu municipality's position on the 
pro-diversity and gay pride events highlights the gulf 
between EU expectations of tolerance and those observed in 
Lithuania.  The relatively homogenous Lithuanian society 
suffers from some of the xenophobia and prejudices that 
sometimes accompany homogenous cultures.  These attitudes 
present a stumbling block to this country's ability to 
quickly adopt the EU standards of gender and racial tolerance 
and equality.  The Lithuanian desire to be treated as equals 
in the EU rather than as second-class citizens will push an 
enlightened minority to try to enforce EU standards of 
tolerance, and the fear of losing the privilege of hosting 
the Gender Equality Institute will prod a few others, but 
there remains much work to be done before the tolerance 
accorded to gays in Western Europe becomes the norm here. 
KELLY