The Tolerant Youth Association (TJA), carrying banners saying "Nature loves diversity, it's society that doesn't," "For people who respect constitution," "For freedom to be peaceful," was joined by members of other NGOs.
According to Sandra Šuliauskaitė, head of the TJA Kaunas branch, the intention of the rally is not to protest against the Kaunas Municipality decision which, in the TJA's view, contradicts human rights and the Constitution of Lithuania. The TJA filed a legal complaint against the decision.
"It is a beautiful festival and we do not want to spoil it for others or ourselves. The decision, that we think is very unfair, has been taken to the court, while today is a day for expressing one's love for Lithuania, for encouraging people to be more tolerant," Šuliauskaitė said.
Earlier, the city authorities had issued permits for two marches to be held on the Independence Day. The second one, organized by the Lithuanian Nationalist Youth Union - a youth NGO that became notorious after its previous Independence Day marches with overtly nationalistic undertones - was not cancelled.
On Tuesday, Vygantas Molis, deputy director of Kaunas municipality, explained the decision claiming that the police would not have enough manpower to maintain public safety during both marches. Representatives of Kaunas police, however, assured that not to be the case, claiming that the police officers would gladly work to make sure there were no incidents. Besides, the two marches were scheduled for different times, therefore their respective crowds would not have met.
The Lithuanian Nationalist Youth Union was granted permit for a 1000-people march, while the one organized by the Tolerant Youth Association envisaged a turn-up of around 100.