Procedure : 2009/2632(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0030/2009

Texts tabled :

B7-0030/2009

Debates :

PV 16/09/2009 - 15
CRE 16/09/2009 - 15

Votes :

PV 17/09/2009 - 4.6

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2009)0019

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 123kWORD 73k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0026/2009
9.9.2009
PE428.634v01-00
 
B7-0030/2009

further to Questions for Oral Answer B7‑0201/2009 and B7‑0202/2009

pursuant to Rules 115 and 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the Lithuanian Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information


Ulrike Lunacek, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Jean Lambert, Judith Sargentini on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

European Parliament resolution on the Lithuanian Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information  
B7‑0030/2009

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to international and European human rights obligations, including those contained in the UN conventions on human rights and in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

–   having regard to the European Union’s provisions on human rights, and in particular to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as to Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union,

–   having regard to Article 13 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, which invests the European Union with the power to adopt measures to combat discrimination based, inter alia, on sexual orientation, and to promote the principle of equality,

–   having regard to Directive 2000/43/EC and Directive 2000/78/EC prohibiting direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, as well as to the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008)0426 final),

–   having regard to Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which prohibits ‘any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation’,

–   having regard to Directive 97/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 1997 amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities (‘Television without Frontiers’),

–   having regard to Rules 115 and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the EU is a community of values based on human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law, equality and non-discrimination,

B.  whereas the EU and its Member States are obliged to promote equality and fight discrimination, in particular on the basis of Article 13 of the EC Treaty and of the directives that have been approved and proposed to reach this aim, including the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation,

C. whereas exclusion, discrimination and harassment of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people lead to severe psychological distress and high suicide rates, and that information and education in schools is essential to protect young LGBT people,

D. whereas sexual orientation is a matter falling within the remit of the individual right to privacy, guaranteed by international, European and national human rights law, and equality and non‑discrimination should be promoted by public authorities, while freedom of expression should be guaranteed for the media, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals,

E.  whereas on 14 July 2009 the Lithuanian Parliament approved amendments to the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information, due to come into force on 1 March 2010, which assert that ‘public information […] that agitates for homosexual [or] bisexual [...] relations’ or that ‘defies family values’ has ‘a detrimental effect on the development of minors’,

F.  whereas such provisions place any information about homosexuality on a par with such phenomena as the portrayal of physical violence, the display of a dead or brutally mutilated human body, and information that arouses fear or horror, or encourages self-mutilation or suicide,

G. whereas the inclusion of such a vague reference to homosexuality is in striking contrast to Article 4(12) of the law, which is aimed at banning information containing ‘mockery or humiliation on grounds of nationality, race, gender, origin, disability, sexual orientation, social status, language, religion, belief or attitudes’,

H. whereas the law does not provide any definition of ‘propagating’ or ‘agitating for’ homosexuality, heterosexuality or any other kind of sexual orientation, contradicting the principle of legal certainty according to which a law is valid where the banned acts are clearly defined in legal terms,

I.   whereas such amendments will result in the banning of any information on homosexuality if it can be accessed by minors, and this could be used to restrict the work of activists working on issues of human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, and could be extended to include information provided through public media or books – a factor which has raised concerns in the media and among editors and journalists – as well as to information provided via websites or films, as also to discotheques, exhibitions, demonstrations and other public events related to homosexuality,

J.   whereas the UK introduced a similar law in 1988, which was subsequently repealed as being not only discriminatory but a serious barrier to effective and sensitive teaching and pastoral care of pupils and students, endangering vulnerable children who faced homophobic bullying and abuse,

K. whereas Article 22 of the Television without Frontiers Directive allows Member States to take appropriate measures to ensure that television broadcasts do not include programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors by containing ‘pornography or gratuitous violence’, but this cannot be interpreted as covering all information related to sexual orientation,

L.  whereas the President of Lithuania had vetoed the law on 26 June 2009, as it was drafted in vague and unclear terms, and asked the Lithuanian Parliament to reconsider it to ensure that it complies with ‘the constitutional principles of the rule of law, legal certainty, and legal clarity’ and does not contravene ‘the guarantees of an open society and pluralistic democracy’,

M. whereas NGOs in the field of human rights and press freedom, as well as MEPs, have repeatedly called on the EU institutions to intervene and on the Lithuanian Parliament to review the law, since it amounts to institutionalising homophobia and violating the right to freedom of expression and the right to be free from discrimination,

N. whereas the Swedish Presidency of the EU has discussed the law with the Lithuanian authorities, while the new Lithuanian President has declared that she will act to ensure it is changed in conformity with EU requirements,

O. whereas further amendments to the penal and administrative codes will be examined in the autumn; whereas these amendments criminalise acts by private or legal persons promoting, or financing the promotion of, homosexuality in public places and deem them punishable by a community‑service order, a fine of up to EUR 1 500 or arrest,

1.  Asks the Agency for Fundamental Rights to assess this law and the amendments to it in the light of the EU treaties and EU law, as well as European principles and values;

2.  Calls upon the Commission and the Council to act under Article 232 of the EC Treaty and to evaluate the possibility of launching the procedure provided for in Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union;

3.  Welcomes the statements made by the new President of the Republic of Lithuania and invites her to ask the Lithuanian Constitutional Court to examine the law and amendments should they be approved, and calls on the Lithuanian authorities to amend the law, or to repeal it, and to refrain from adopting the amendments to the penal and administrative codes, so as to ensure that laws are compatible with human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in international and European law;

4.  Calls for respect for the right to freedom of expression for everybody – including the right to seek, receive and impart information – for EU law and policies on anti‑discrimination, and for the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 13 of the EC Treaty, in other words, for the EU’s fundamental values;

5.  Calls on other Member States to refrain from adopting similar laws or amendments, to condemn homophobic acts and to strengthen the implementation of EU directives and laws in the field of anti-discrimination and human rights;

6.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the candidate countries, the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Council of Europe.

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