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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 26, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 30
Lithuanian court OKs Baltic Pride march
Section One
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Lithuanian court OKs Baltic Pride march

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A court in Vilnius, Lithuania, has given final approval for the 2013 Baltic Pride March, scheduled for July 27. In a ruling on July 23, the court gave the City of Vilnius until 11 a.m. on July 25 to make arrangements for the march to proceed. The ruling cannot be appealed.

The mayor of the city had tried to block the march on the grounds that it would be a 'threat to public peace,' but the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court ruled earlier this month that the march should be allowed.

In its July 23 order, the court said the Pride March will take place on Gediminas Avenue, the city's main street. 'Democracy does not simply mean the reign of the majority attitude,' the court said in its ruling.

HUMAN RIGHTS VICTORY
'It has taken us seven months to prove that human rights do exist in Lithuania, and Gediminas Avenue belongs to everyone,' Lithuania Gay League (LGL) head Vladimir Simonko said after the ruling.

Evelyne Paradis, executive director for the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe), released a statement welcoming the court's decision.

'We warmly welcome today's ruling, which is not only just but the only possible verdict in any country committed to human rights,' she said. 'We regret that the mayor of Vilnius has continuously denied permission for this event to take place on the main city's avenue and that he chose to challenge all court judgments issued in favor of the organizers of the Baltic Pride.'

Paradis also insisted that 'the marchers must be protected and their safety ensured,' especially because Lithuania is the current host of the E.U. presidency and 'a public face of the European Union.'

2012 MARCH PEACEFUL
Baltic Pride 2012 took place in Riga, Latvia, and the 2011 event was held in Tallinn, Estonia. Both events were peaceful, but the 2010 event - also in Vilnius - was marred by clashes between riot police and anti-Gay demonstrators.

The anti-Gay hate group Watchmen on the Walls has its international headquarters in Riga, although it was founded by U.S. evangelist Scott Lively.

According to ILGA-Europe's Rainbow Europe Index for 2013, Lithuania ranks 31st among 49 European countries in terms of laws and policies affecting the human rights of LGBTI people. As an E.U. member, Lithuania is under legal obligation to protect the rights of its LGBT citizens.

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