After a first reading, the Lithuanian parliamenthas passed amendments to the penal code criminalising the promotion of same-sex relationships. “If the amendments get through the two remaining readings, homosexuals will face penalties ranging from forced labour through to fines and detention,” reports Polish daily Dziennik. Penalties for “gay agitation” would apply to both individuals and organisations. The opposition conservative and eurosceptic party Order and Justice (TiT) is agitating for a minimum fine set at €325, the maximum €1,750. A couple of months ago the Lithuanian right sought to push through parliament a bill that equated homosexuality with zoophilia and necrophilia, providing not only fines but also prison sentences for speaking favourably about gay tendencies.

The left and the country’s gay rights organisations are shocked by the passing of these anti-gay regulations. “This is an absurdity and a shame,” said Marija Pavilioniene, deputy for the social-democratic party Ausrine. In the meantime, the conservatives have been explaining that the purpose of these regulations. According to one of the bill’s originators, Petras Grazulis, a well known “tribune of the people”, this is all “to prevent these persons from forcing themselves on others and aggressively demonstrating their lifestyle.” Petras Luomanas from the ruling Homeland Union echoed Gazulis – ‘Because of propaganda, young people are beginning to uncritically accept the following cliché: a homosexual is a European and a progressive, whereas the heterosexual is a redneck and an ignoramus.”