Lithuanian law for the protection of minors against the detrimental effect of public information
ORAL QUESTION WITH DEBATE O-0082/09
pursuant to Rule 115 of the Rules of Procedure
by Rui Tavares, Cornelia Ernst, Cornelis de Jong, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Willy Meyer and Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group
to the Commission
The Lithuanian Parliament approved last Tuesday amendments to the law on the protection of minors against the detrimental effects of public information on the day of the 220th anniversary of the Fall of the Bastille, on which we remember such values of the Enlightenment as freedom of expression and the right to the pursuit of happiness. This law - that in a previous version had been vetoed by the President of Lithuania - confirmed by the Lithuanian Parliament on 14 July 2009, was the same day on which the European Parliament held its constituent sitting after the elections.
This is a law that aims to prevent the display of ‘public information that agitates for homosexual relations’ and that ‘defies family values’, on the grounds that such information could be available to minors. Furthermore, new provisions in the penal and administrative codes are being proposed, to be discussed and approved in September, that would presumably lead to the criminalisation of people ‘propagating homosexuality’, which would then be punishable by means of arrest, sentencing to community labour, or the payment of fines of up to 1500 euros.
Does the Commission not think that such law is in contradiction with the European Convention on Human Rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 6 TEU of the EU Treaty and Article 13 TEC of the EC Treaty, i.e. the fundamental values on which Europe is based? What will the Commission do to ensure that Lithuania complies with its obligations under European and international law?
Has the Commission requested information on what kind of materials fall under this law? Does its jurisdiction extend to books, art, press, advertising, music and public performance such as theatre? Would the vagueness of that definition not leave authors, publishers and journalists subject to self-censorship in order to avoid the punishments now being discussed? Would the enforcement of such a law not constitute encroachment by the State and the authorities into the definition of the limits and nature of the public sphere, and as such would it not be incompatible with the freedom and pluralism of society?
Is the Commission ready if necessary to activate the procedure provided for in Article 7 TEU of the EU Treaty?
Deadline for reply: 03.08.2009