Viewing cable 09VILNIUS704
Title: PARLIAMENT AXES RESTRICTIONS ON INFO ABOUT

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09VILNIUS7042009-12-22 15:53:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXRO3160
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHVL #0704 3561553
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221553Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4013
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000704 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV LH
SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT AXES RESTRICTIONS ON INFO ABOUT 
HOMOSEXUALITY 
 
REF: VILNIUS 381 
 
¶1.  The Lithuanian Seimas (parliament) on December 22 again 
amended a law to protect minors from harmful effects of 
public information, this time to remove restrictions on 
information concerning homosexual, bisexual or polygamous 
relations.  The law, when amended earlier this year to 
include those restrictions, caused an international outcry 
among human-rights groups and official disapproval from the 
European Parliament.  One Lithuanian human-rights leader said 
the new version of the law was somewhat better, but still 
troubling in some areas. 
 
¶2.  The law concerning exposure of minors to potentially 
harmful information has been on the books in Lithuania for 
years.  But amendments earlier this year brought approbation 
from Lithuanian and international human-rights organizations, 
who objected to a section labeling public information 
promoting homosexual, bisexual or polygamous relations as 
"having a detrimental effect on the mental health, physical, 
intellectual or moral development of minors."  Then-President 
Valdas Adamkus vetoed the amendments, but the Seimas overrode 
that veto (reftel).  Shortly after taking office, new 
President Dalia Grybauskaite said she also disapproved of the 
law and would appoint a commission to recommend new 
amendments.  The amendments passed by the Seimas on December 
22 were largely those proposed by Grybauskaite, based on her 
commission's recommendations, though some additional changes 
were suggested by members of the Seimas. 
 
¶3.  The references to homosexual relations were replaced by a 
prohibition on exposing minors to information "which promotes 
sexual abuse and harassment of minors and sexual relations by 
minors" and "which promotes sexual relationships."  According 
to the law, "promotion" is defined as "targeted information 
by which minors are encouraged to undertake specific actions 
or change habits or beliefs." 
 
¶4.  The new amendments include a provision that categorizes 
as harmful information "which denigrates family values, 
promotes marriage formation and a family creation concept 
other that that provided for" in the Lithuanian constitution 
or civil code.  The constitution says "marriage shall be 
concluded upon the free and mutual consent of a man and a 
woman," and that the rights of spouses shall be equal.  It 
says the right and duty of parents is to bring up their 
children to be honest people and faithful citizens, and to 
support them until they reach adulthood.  The duty of 
children is to respect their parents, take care of them in 
their old age and preserve their heritage.  The civil code 
also defines marriage as a voluntary agreement between a man 
and woman to establish legal family relations.  But the 
Seimas in 2008 approved a "Family Concept" that defines a 
family as a community of closely related person, created on 
the basis of the marriage of a man and a woman. 
 
¶5.  Human-rights defenders applauded the removal of the 
references to homosexual relations, but remained concerned 
about the emphasis on heterosexual marriage as the sole basis 
of a family.  Many Lithuanian children are born out of 
wedlock or live in single-parent homes because of divorce or 
death.  Many Lithuanian families also have one parent living 
elsewhere in Europe, where they can find higher wages and 
better support their families.  Henrikas Mickevicius, 
executive director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute 
in Vilnius, said the lack of definitions of many terms in the 
law make it difficult to predict how it will be enforced.  He 
also said the replacement of "homosexual relations" with 
"sexual relations" in the law did not solve the problem.  The 
ban on information about homosexuality is still there, just 
hidden inside a broader ban, he said. 
 
¶6.  Mickevicius said he did not think a better law was 
possible in the current political environment in the Seimas. 
"Now we just have to wait a year or two and see what the 
first cases are and how the law is interpreted," he said. 
DERSE