The Lithuanian parliament has passed amended legislation which will ban any information on homosexuality in schools or in media which would be accessible by young people.

The bill, titled the “Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information,” includes “the propaganda of homosexuality [or] bisexuality” as a detrimental factor on young people.

This puts homosexuality in the same category as the “display of dead or cruelly mutilated body, information that causes fear or horror or encourages suicide”. Human rights activists say the law will institutionalise homophobia, violate freedom of speech and harm children.

The bill has not yet been given presidential approval.

“If this amendment was accepted, any information that is taunting, mocking and providing any negative information on homosexuals would not be considered as against the law while positive information about homosexuals, or ‘propaganda’ as the authors of the legislation call it, would be banned,” the Tolerant Youth Association (TJA), an LGBT advocacy group and one of the biggest youth NGOs fighting for human rights in Lithuania, said in a statement.

Earlier this month, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told that the legislation is “homophobic discrimination”, and it violates a code of ethics set down by both the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the UN declaration of Human Rights.

“Lithuania has signed up to these international humanitarian declarations but it is now defying them. It wants the rights of EU and UN membership, but not the responsibilities… I hope the EU will take swift and tough action. It must make it clear to Lithuania and other renegade homophobic member states that membership of the EU is conditional on adherence to EU laws and values. Member states cannot be allowed to pick and choose. Lithuania has no right to belong to European institutions if it violates their human rights principles”, he said.

The law has been compared to a similar one in 1988, where the UK’s Section 28 banned mention of homosexuality in schools. It was repealed first in Scotland only in 2000 and in the rest of the UK in 2003.

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