March 13, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
Final vote on Lithuania propaganda bill postponed

Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, Lithuanian Gay League, gay news, Washington Blade

Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius of the Lithuanian Gay League. (Photo courtesy of Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius)

The Lithuanian Parliament on Thursday postponed the final vote on a bill that seeks to fine those who denigrate the “constitutional value of family life.”

Parliamentarian Petras Gražulis introduced the proposal after Baltic Pride took place in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, last July. The lawmaker whom Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius of the Lithuanian Gay League described to the Washington Blade on Wednesday during an interview from New York City as “the homophobic icon of my country” is among those who tried to disrupt the event.

Gražulis has introduced similar measures since 2011.

“It’s clearly directed against the local LGBT community,” Raskevičius told the Blade.

Gražulis introduced his bill shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a measure into law that bans so-called gay propaganda to minors.

Gražulis sent Putin a letter in his official capacity to congratulate him for signing the controversial measure. He also praised the Russian president for “fighting back against gays” during a speech he gave at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“[Grazulis] is totally in line with what is happening in Russia,” said Raskevičius.

Lawmakers in Latvia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan and other former Soviet Republics have introduced measures similar to Russia’s gay propaganda law.

The Council of Europe, the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights and Amnesty international are among the groups that have criticized Gražulis’ proposal. It remains unclear when Lithuanian parliamentarians will again consider his bill.

“This amendment targeted at repressing the LGBT community is part of an alarming trend throughout Eastern Europe, where these bills are contributing to a dangerous culture of fear and violence against LGBT people,” said Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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