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>Lithuania: Anti-gay laws highlight CEE states moving apart on social issues

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Lithuania’s Gay League have sent me and various other specialists working on Central and Eastern politics a press release highlighting forthcoming illiberal legislation in Lithuania against the propogation of homosexuality asking that it be widelty circulated. I am more than happy
to reproduce it below.

For British readers old enough to remember the 1980s this has some echoes of the the (now repealed)Clause 28 legilsation passed by Mrs Thatcher’s government which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in school (although the bill reported below seems much more wide-ranging) and this perhaps gives a clue how to interpret it from a more academic, political
science perspective, giving that ‘Thatcherism’ had a strong ‘authoritarian populist’ elements

Lithianian developments seems to fit into a wider pattern of growing illiberal populism – and illiberal legislation concerning gender and sexuality – which seems to a feature of politics in some countries in the region (Poland, Latvia and Lithuania). Meanwhile, others parts of CEE have bumped along with a slow process of social liberalization: the Czech Republic and Slovenia have even got round to legalizing civil partnerships, although God forbid that you should want to propagate totalitarianism (legally banned in the CR) or question Slovenia’s claims to its maritme border (currently blocking Croatia’s accession to the EU).

“LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT TAKES FURTHER STEPS TOWARDS THE CRIMINALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY

Press release by Lithuanian gay league (LGL)
July 10, 2009

The Seimas, which earlier rejected amendments criminalizing propagation of homosexuality, this Thursday took another step in this direction.

The amendments will be returned to the assembly hall at autumn session after considering them by the parliamentarian committees. Only the Liberal Movement Alliance and the Liberal & Centre Alliance had no representatives who supported these amendments.

The initiators of the amendments: the members of the group Order & Justice Petras Gra?ulis, his colleague in the group Algimantas Dumbrava, the representative of the group of the Nation Resurrection Party Jonas Stanevi?ius, and conservatives Petras Luomanas, Kazimieras Uoka, and Justinas Urbanavi?ius.

The amendments of penal and administrative codes suggest that a person propagating homosexual relationships in public areas is committing a criminal action to be punished either by public works, or by a fine, or by arrestment. The amendments stipulate that a legal person also is to be responsible for such actions.

It is suggested to impose LTL 1 to 5 thousand fine for propagatinghomosexual relationships or for financing propagation in public places.

Earlier, the Seimas rejected initiated by P. Gra?ulis amendmentsstipulating the punishment for propagation of homosexuality, zoophilia and necrophilia, by deprivation of freedom for the term up to one year.

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus vetoed a bill that banned from schools and public places information that agitates for homosexual, bisexual orpolygamous relations, late last month.

Seventy-one votes would be needed to override Adamkus’ veto on July 14.

The vetoed Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information, has been denounced by Amnesty International, ILGA-Europe, Human Rights Watch, foreign governments and members of the European Parliament but is likely to be finally approved next Tuesday.

Vladimir Simonko, chair of the national LGBT advocacy organizationLithuanian Gay League says:

“These heavy homophobia driven laws codify discrimination based on sexual orientation, deny freedom of expression, and inhibit LGBT persons’ rights to education, information and every day life. Panic fear of the Baltic Pride event planned in Vilnius for May 9, 2010 overshadows clear violation of international and European human rights law to which Lithuania is a
party”.

For more info:

Eduardas Platovas,
Programmes co-ordinator
Tel.:+370.5 2610314
Fax: +370 5 2130762
Mob. +370 612 15243
E-mail: edis@gay.lt
www.atviri.lt; www.lgl.lt

>Lithuania: Who wants to be… Prime Minister?

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Over at Pozorblog Kevin Deegan Krause has a whimsical and pointed commentary about the vacuous but brilliant election campaign of Lithuania’s National Resurrection Party (Tautos prisikėlimo partija), run by a TV presenter Arūnas Valinskas, who hosts the local franchise of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The TPP’s advertising mix of clean up, calls novelty and anti-establishment ‘kick the bums out’ billboards, Pozobrblog notes (and illustrates) – which propelled it into parliament and into government last year – is a near perfect illustration of the rise of what my SSEES colleague Allan Sikk calls ‘newness as project’ in the Baltic and beyond – the rise (and fall of) new disposable, use-and-discard parties, who’ve taken the notion of parties as a public utlity (an expression used by Ingrid van Biezen in relation to the increasingly detached, statecentric nature of moden party organization) to its logical end. Parties are as about as programmatic or as permanent as the mobile company: funkiness, celebs, a certain brand identity, but basically the same product at the same price.
I can to get through WordPress’s reader registration procedure to comment, directly dirctly at Pozorblog but it occurs to me is that such funky new post-modern parties still require a very basic old style factor to produce and splash high quality advertising: money. Although celebrity and media savvy might, I supposed compensate, for hard cash to some extent, the real story might be rise of various pocket sized Baltic Berlusconis, each getting their fifteen minutes of … power.

It’s also interesting to think of how and why such projects have failed in some contexts: Vladimír Želeny’s Independent Democrats’ party in the Czech Republic , for example, had similar ingredients, but scrapped a couple of MEPs in 2004 (one an ex-newsreader, one the media mogul himself) then pretty disappeared from sight until VŽ poached the Libertas.cz trademark.

>Lithuania: I’m a celebrity, get me into there (parliament, that is)

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Early results from Lithuania’s parliamentary election provide further, and rather depressing, confirmation of my SSEES colleague Allan Sikk’s work about the the emergence of some party systems in in Baltic and beyond, as a whirlygig of loosely populist parties headed up by celebrity businesspeople and politicians which stand for nothing much more than a ‘project of newness’. In Lithuania a party headed by a reality TV talent show host, the National Revival Party polling 15% is the latest addition.

>Lithuania investigates ‘war crimes’ of WWII Jewish resistance fighters

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Excellent report on BBC Radio 4’s Crossing Continents programme about historical memory in Lithuania, where the authorities are investigating the supposed war crimes of Jewish resistance fighters in World War II, whilst dragging their feet over prosecuting the country’s own wartime collaborators who took part in the Holocaust. Lithuania’s deputy foreign minister explains that Soviet mass deportations of the country’s elite were also a ‘genocide’. Anti-communism with an undercurrent of anti-semitism. Uncomfortable listening.