VILNIUS — Observers of the sometimes eerie human rights scene here thought they had seen it all, or most of it, but an elected parliamentarian’s latest stunt was seen as a new setback for Lithuania’s image even by conservatives on social issues.
While leaders of the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) were participating with dignity in a human rights conference in central Vilnius, organized this week by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, with the topic “Giving Victims a Face and a Voice,” MP Petras Gražulis personally visited the offices of LGL’s modest community center, with a gift-wrapped package containing an obscene and sophomorically homophobic item and proceeded to video the premises without permission (details here).
In recent years, rights observers have been dismayed to see some MPs attending neo-Nazi marches in Vilnius and Kaunas, participating in events that honor Nazi collaborators and perpetrators of the 1941 period of genocide of the country’s Jewish population, as well as the specter of MPs disparaging Roma, Poles, Russians, and various other Others.
It is hoped that on this occasion, human rights NGOs, Western embassies and international organizations will rapidly issue statements condemning the MP’s demonstration of immature hate, and calling for the country’s highest politicians, right up to the president and prime minister, to condemn such hateful behavior by elected officials toward fellow residents of the European Union. By remaining silent, those who profess to want to avoid embarrassment to allies as an excuse for timidity and silence are not exhibiting bona fide friendship. The real friend is the one who speaks up loud and clear when something is wrong. And the real human rights organization is the one that issues a clear statement for the record.