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Lithuanian parliament mulls anti-gay law

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(VILNIUS) - Lithuania's parliament Friday decided to push ahead with legislation imposing fines for the "public promotion of homosexual relations," a move gay-rights activists say could suppress gay pride parades.

In a first reading Friday, 31 legislators voted in favour and seven were against the draft law that envisages fines from 2,000 to 10,000 litas (580-2,900 euros, 792-3,955 dollars ) for "publicly promoting homosexual relations".

Other lawmakers in the 141-seat parliament abstained or did not vote. Two more votes are needed to approve the controversial law, with the second reading expected in December.

In Lithuania, certain types of bills can pass with a majority of just half of lawmakers present making 36 the minimum number of votes required to pass a law.

"Such a law would prohibit public events, like Baltic (gay) Pride," Vytautas Valentinavicius, head of the Vilnius-based equal rights and social development center, told AFP on Friday.

"In this vote, lawmakers showed their attitude towards human rights and European values," he added.

"Any evil cannot be propagated. Such events like gay parades do great harm to children," Petras Grazulis, the legislator who tabled the draft legislation told AFP after the vote.

An ex-Soviet nation of 3.3 million, Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004.


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