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Lithuanian court rules in favor of LGBT pride organizers

Baltic pride Vilnius 2010
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Baltic pride Vilnius 2010
Šaltinis: BNS

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania passed a ruling on Thursday, ordering Vilnius authorities to review their decision regarding the venue for an LGBT pride march scheduled for July.

Having heard the organizers' appeal, the court ruled that Vilnius City Municipality had made a non-substantiated decision to move the planned event from central Gedimino Avenue, as requested by organizers, to Upės Street a little further from central Vilnius.

"The Law on Meetings does not give the administration of Vilnius City Municipality the right to unilaterally designate a location for a march or meeting without prior arrangement with the meeting's organizers," the court said in a statement.

Leaving the ruling of a lower court, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania said that if the parties involved fail to come to an agreement during negotiations, Vilnius authorities must issue a refusal which could subsequently be appealed pursuant to the procedure as provided by law.

Taking into account the fact that the march is to take place within a month, on July 27, the judicial panel stressed that the coordination procedure should take place as soon as possible.

Vilnius authorities base their decision on security reasons. Meanwhile, the march organizers believe they should be allowed to march through a street where marches and demonstrations by other groups often take place.

Vladimir Simonko, leader of the Lithuanian Gay League, said after the court ruling that Vilnius authorities need to realize during new talks that Upės Street is totally unacceptable for the organizers as it would be "a segregation route."

"If it happens so that the municipality refuses to make arrangements for our route, it would constitute a march ban. We will consider a refusal to arrange a location suitable for us as a march ban. But I hope this will not happen," he told BNS, adding that he expects 800 people to take part in the march.

Vilnius Municipality has issued a short statement after the ruling, pledging to resolve the LGBT march location and route issue shortly.

"The Event (Meeting) Coordination Commission of Vilnius Municipality will resolve the issue of the location of the gay march with representatives of the police and the Lithuanian Gay League," it said.

The first LGBT march in Lithuania took place in 2010 and was also preceded by court hearings on the march location and permission to hold it in the first place. The march itself took place eventually, with several hundred people marching through a heavily-guarded territory in the presence of around a thousand protesters.

Naujienų agentūros BNS informaciją atgaminti visuomenės informavimo priemonėse bei interneto tinklalapiuose be raštiško UAB „BNS“ sutikimo draudžiama.
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