June 16, 2009 / 5:55 PM / 11 years ago

Lithuania passes ban on information on homosexuality

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuania’s parliament gave final approval on Tuesday to a bill that a local human rights organisation said could ban the discussion of homosexuality in schools.

The bill, awaiting presidential approval, has drawn local and international criticism and prompted rights group Amnesty International to say it would institutionalise homophobia and violate the right to freedom of expression.

The bill, which includes a ban on information that “agitates for homosexual, bisexual relations or polygamy” was approved with 67 lawmakers voting in favour, three against and four abstaining in the 141-seat parliament.

The law said such information was detrimental to adolescents and its public dissemination should be banned.

Local human rights experts said the ban’s impact was not clear.

“It is difficult to say how the law would work in practice ... It could be used against teachers who would want to discuss homosexuality with schoolchildren,” Henrikas Mickevicius, the head of Vilnius-based Human Rights Monitoring Institute, told Reuters.

“In any case, we are talking about limiting freedom of expression here.”

The institute said in its latest report homophobic attitudes were on the rise in Lithuania.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis

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