„I am so proud, and not only for Lithuania. I consider an opportunity to hold a Pride tomorrow to be an important step. This dispute was not only about gay rights, or the Pride itself, this was a fundamental human rights question”
– Birgitta Ohlsson, Swedish Minister for European Union Affairs
Case in brief: the march “For Equality” was prohibited during the first Baltic Pride organized in Lithuania
Legal proceedings: the court found the prohibition unlawful, and march took place as planned
Facts of the case:
At the beginning of 2010, Lithuanian Gay League and Tolerant Youth Association were granted a certificate to organize the march “For Equality” (first Baltic Pride event in Lithuania).
On 5 May 2010, three days before the date of the event, Vilnius district administrative court, upon the request of hte Prosecutor General, temporarily suspended the certificate. The court relied on the arguments provided by the Prosecutor General that “the members of radical and destructive movements were planning various types of provocations should the march take place”.
On the same day, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute drafted an appeal on behalf of the applicants to the Supreme Administrative Court asking to quash the decision as unlawful and being contrary to the ECtHR established principles with respect to the right to freedom of assembly.
On 7 May 2010, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the complaint and quashed the decision of Vilnius district administrative court . The Supreme Administrative Court concluded that according to the European Convention of Human Rights and the case-law of European Court of Human Rights, the state has a positive obligation to ensure effective enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly for all, including individuals with unpopular views or minority groups. The essential clause of effective exercise of freedom of assembly is a presumption of lawfulness, which is infringed when refusing to sanction a gathering and preventing minorities from participation.
The Supreme Administrative Court found that the applicants failed to provide conclusive data or evidence which could support the allegation that the state was not adequately prepared to meet its positive obligation to ensure the safety of the participants. The Court has also concluded that the temporary suspension of the certificate without the decision of the court on the merits of the case infringes the right to peaceful assembly.
Follow-up to the case:
The march “For Equality” took place on 8 May 2010.