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MEPs condemn Lithuania's 'section 28' law; Tories abstain

September 17, 2009 1:57 PM
Baroness Ludford

London Lib Dem MEP Sarah Ludford

In a resolution sponsored by Liberal Democrat MEPs, the European Parliament has voted by a large majority to condemn new anti-gay legislation in Lithuania. The British Tories, however, abstained in the vote, showing their hypocrisy regarding their attitude to the gay community.

In a move reminiscent of the Tories infamous 'section 28', Lithuania's parliament has amended a 'Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information' in order to ban and even criminalise material that 'agitates for homosexual or bisexual relations' or 'defies family values' from schools, youth clubs, public places and media likely to be viewed by children. This could imperil campaigning on human rights issues related to sexual orientation discrimination, the provision of sexual health advice to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, sex education in schools and efforts to stop homophobic bullying.

Sarah Ludford MEP is Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and member of the European Parliament Intergroup on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights. She said: "It is shocking that an EU member state can pass such prejudiced legislation. It will only increase exclusion, discrimination and harassment. The EU must take decisive action to make sure that Lithuania respects its European human rights and equality obligations, to the extent of sanctions if necessary."

"I am astonished and appalled that Conservative MEPs refused to vote against this vindictive law. David Cameron apologised for section 28 in the UK but then his own team in the European Parliament abstains on a law that is even worse. As the Liberal Democrats predicted, this is the result of Cameron's decision to 'get into bed' with homophobic far-right groups from Poland and the Czech Republic."

"The Tories might be reaching out to the LGBT community but it is clear that they are just hunting for votes. Hypocrisy, division and 'nasty' politics define the Tory's attitude to gay rights. The LGBT community just cannot trust them."