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2013 06 20
Lithuanian Supreme Court rules in favor of Baltic Pride organizers
On 20 June 2013 the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania passed a ruling, ordering the municipal authorities of Vilnius to review their decision regarding the location of the Baltic Pride 2013. On the other hand, the major of Vilnius City indicates that the Municipality is likely to reject the current notification once again.

The Court ruled that Vilnius City Municipality had made a non-substantiated decision to move the planned event from the centrally located Gedimino Avenue, as requested by organizers, to rather isolated and inaccessible area on the Upės Street. "The Law on Public Meetings does not give the right for the Municipality to unilaterally designate a location for a march or a meeting without prior agreement with the organizers of an event," the Court stated in its judgment.

Leaving the ruling of a lower court intact, 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 before the courts anew. Taking into account the fact that the Baltic Pride March for Equality is to take place in a month, i.e. on 27 July 2013, the judges stressed that the coordination procedure should take place as soon as possible.

The municipal authorities base their decision on security reasons. Meanwhile, the organizers of the Baltic Pride 2013 March for Equality believe they should be allowed to march through a street where marches and demonstrations by other groups often take place. The Board Cahir of the Lithuanian Gay league (LGL) Vladimir Simonko said after the Court’s decision 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.

In the meanwhile the mayor of the Vilnius City Mr Artūras Zuokas in his interview to the press after the announcement of the judgment has indicated: "Administration will access all the risks in relation the requested location and will consult with the law enforcement officials, who are very skeptical about the Gediminas Avenue. The Municipality will be able to reject the current notification, and the Lithuanian Gay League will have to apply once again by proposing a new location based on security requirements. Then the Municipality will make the final decision. [...] We will act in accordance with the laws and the Constitution. We will assess the security risks. We respect the Court's ruling and will implement it soon, as it is indicated in the judgment. [...] This conflict is purely artificial. The above indicated individuals seek for attention. A small group of people are seeking to make themselves overtly important."

LGL is expecting to have a meeting with the Municipal authorities early next week, i.e. from 25 June 2013 onwards.

e-solution: gaumina