Riga, Jun 25 (EFE).- Lithuania’s president Gitanas Nauseda was the only one out of the three top Baltic leaders at Thursday’s European Council meeting who declined to sign a letter signed by 17 EU countries against Hungary’s new bill banning schools from teaching about homosexuality or gender change issues.
Nauseda said the EU leaders condemning the law were not familiar with it and that signing a letter would change little to nothing, local media reported.
Latvia’s Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins and Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas were among those who signed the letter as well as Lithuania’s Deputy Foreign Minister Arnoldas Pranckevicius, who signed the letter on behalf of Lithuania.
Lithuanian Human Rights Center said it was ashamed Nauseda had refused to support the Hungarian LGBTQI+ community and that even though the president shows support for democratic values in the Constitution, he acts like an autocratic leader.
Professor Tomas Janeliunas at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University said the opposing actions by the president and deputy foreign minister send mixed signals to the international community, making it not clear to foreign leaders which values Lithuania is supporting, local media reported.
LGBTQI+ rights are a divisive issue in all three Baltic countries. While civil partnership for same-sex couples is allowed in Estonia, similar proposed laws have suffered setbacks in Lithuania and Latvia, where such legislation has been introduced and rejected several times over more than a decade.
Latvia has two openly gay government ministers, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and newly appointed Minister of Interior Marija Golubeva, but social media have been filled with anti-LGBTQI+ remarks about both.
An example of this was a forged letter attributed to Golubeva that allowed male Latvian police officers to wear female uniforms was circulated on Facebook in recent days.
All three Baltic states rank relatively low in indexes of respect for LGBTQI+ rights and non-discrimination, even though local laws can be applied to punish hate crimes against gay persons.
Latvia will host a series of “Baltic Pride” events in Riga from August 2-6.