LGBT Equality Protests Removal of July 2013 March from Vilnius’s Central Boulevard

LGBT Equality (the LGL — Lithuanian Gay League) today issued a statement on its website  urging the Vilnius municipality to change its heart over a decision to ban the Baltic Pride march from the capital’s center in the summer of 2013, just as Lithuania will proudly be assuming the rotating chairmanship of the European Union. The statement follows an earlier 16 January statement.

In the meantime, a nationalist website has announced that the March 11th 2013 neo-Nazi march will proceed on the capital’s central boulevard as always, irrespective of any requests from the municipality. The statement is signed by a former long-term high official of the Genocide Research Center who was involved in organizing various neo-Nazi marches and defending them publicly.


Video of the first (2008) neo-Nazi march in the city center

Eyewitness account of 2010 Baltic Pride March across the river

Eyewitness account of 2011 Neo-Nazi March in the city center

Eyewitness account of 2012 Neo-Nazi March in the city center

The full statement released today by LGBT Eqality:

LGL Urges Vilnius Municipality to Reconsider Removal of Baltic Pride from Central Avenue

On 23 January 2013 the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) submitted a request for the Deputy Director of Administration of Vilnius City Municipality to initiate a new approval procedure with regard to the Baltic Pride March on 27 July 2013. The organization is of the position that the unilateral decision by the municipal authorities to relocate the planned March from Gedimino Avenue (i.e. the central street in downtown Vilnius) to the rather isolated and inaccessible area on the riverbank contradicts the Law on Public Meetings and disproportionately inhibits the effective enjoyment of the constitutional rights to the freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of expression.
The Law on Public Meetings stipulates that the right to choose the location for public assembly belongs to the organizers of the assembly and not to the state or municipal authorities (Article 4). To put it in other words, the municipal authorities cannot select another location for the planned assembly on their own motion in case the location, proposed by the organizers, does not contravene the legal provisions. Furthermore, the municipal authorities did not engage in constructive dialogue, did not effectively take account of the organizer’s position and were wrongfully applying the Law on Public Meetings in the course of the common meeting with the LGL on 15 January 2013.
The Supreme Court of Lithuania in its previous judgments has indicated that the right to freely choose location, time, purpose and mode of public assembly constitutes an essential part of the effective exercise of the right to peaceful assembly. In addition to this, the Court has emphasized that “the decisions by public authorities have to be grounded on substantiated factual evidence and not mere assumptions.” Therefore the unsubstantiated claims by the municipal authorities that it would be more difficult to grant the security of the participants of the march on the Gediminas Avenue (i.e. without providing any factual evidence) do not constitute the legitimate basis for relocating the Baltic Pride March.
It has to be noted that by organizing the public assembly the LGL seeks to increase the public visibility and social inclusion of the LGBT community in Lithuania and to express the positions and opinions by vulnerable social group publicly. The removal of the public march from the central part of Vilnius contradicts the main purpose of the planned assembly. Therefore the LGL will employ all possible means to ensure the effective exercise of the right to peaceful assembly for LGBT community in Lithuania.
The LGL asks the municipal authorities to initiate an approval procedure with regard to the Baltic Pride March anew. In case of refusing this motion, the LGL request to provide factually substantiated explanation, why the location, indicated in the notification on organization of public assembly, was not approved.
The municipal authorities have 20 days to respond to the official request.
The full  text of request is available here.


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