Nobody wants Chechnyan conditions.
By Roberta Dombrovskytė
Be careful when you walk the streets of Lithuania.
You might see things like lesbian extremist propaganda, gay cannibals or — even worse — a Nanny-State telling you who you should love or go to bed with. Of course, the first two examples are made-up, but the last one is real and if you haven’t been informed, here is a little lesson about love and liberty.
Last week, a teenager from Lithuania shared a powerpoint presentation from religion lesson at a local school on her facebook profile. She expressed her concern about the way the teacher was speaking about homosexuality. The teacher argued that almost every person, that was convicted for homicide and cannibalism, was gay. She also spoke about Gay manifesto and showed a visualisation of Soviet symbols in the middle of gay rainbow flag. Eventually, it turned out to be a lesson not only to her, but also to our young democratic society.
The fake scientist
We should mention that the lesson wasn’t based purely on the teacher’s perspective. As a source, she used Paul Cameron’s material, who is known for his controversial researches on gay cannibalism and pedophilia. The self-proclaimed scientist Cameron was expelled from the American Psychology Association in 1983 and his statements were condemned by the American Sociological Association and the Canadian Psychological Association. Cameron is also well known for conspiratorial thoughts on homosexuals planning to conquer all the world. Since, according to him, the US and the West have already surrendered, he strongly supports Putin’s Russia in the struggle of Christians against homosexuality.
It is well worth to mention that small town teacher wasn’t the only one who approves of Paul Cameron’s “research” and its educational value. In 2010, Cameron was invited to give a lecture in Lithuania’s Parliament. Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party member Mantas Adomėnas, who was also member of parliament group “For Human Dignity”, asked Cameron to share his expertise in order to support family values. We can only guess how much the parliament members actually learnt from someone with Cameron’s lack of scientific merits.
However, these are not isolated cases of misinformation in education. The recent case got people started to talk more about education on homosexuality. Another example was found in the Vilnius University’s Medical Faculty textbook. The authors described lesbian love as a sexual perversion. They also argued that people with non-heteresexual life are are more likely to be ill, retarded, psychopathic and more likely of alcoholism. Overall they made a point that homosexuality is illness. Even though there consensus since the 1970s in social sciences and among mental health professionals worldwide that homosexuality is a healthy variation of human sexual orientation. Which can mean only one thing, Lithuania is living in past, but should we?
Something you are born with
Maybe — as some say — society isn’t ready to live in the present and tolerate homosexuality. Some even saw a threat to society from the poster of the play “Žalgirės” with two women kissing. It does look like an innocent kiss, but some people dig deeper than the rest of us and find hidden lesbian propaganda in it. Articles were written about it, to inform people about a woman’s worries that if children might see it they might think it is ok and start copying such behaviour, which could lead to change their sexual orientation in future. This conclusion was made despite the well established fact that homosexuality isn’t something you can choose. It is something you are born with.
Some say, it takes time to digest the idea of same sex people loving each other. But this time might never come. Not only because of miseducation about it, but also because the Nanny-State supports disapproval of LGBT rights in social-political discourse. One example is the children’s book “Gintarinė širdis”( Amber heart), which was written to show the diversity of individuals in society.
It was banned under the Law for the Protection of Minors against the Negative Effect of Public Information. According to this law minors should not be exposed to information that is against “family values” which are promoted in the Lithuanian Constitution. Love between same sex characters was considered to be against family values and therefore “negative information”. It is important to mention that current article 38 of the Constitution doesn’t state that marriage and family are the same thing. But some politicians went further and described family and marriage only as a matter between a man and a woman, for the sake of saving traditional family.
But what does really need saving — the traditional family or the rational mind and individual freedom?
Words are as powerful as silence
Of course, we might feel better knowing that since 1993 homosexuality has been decriminalised in Lithuania and since then initiatives that support LGBT rights have been growing. Sadly, we don’t seem to be moving forward with actually improving the situation. Sometimes it feels like riding a bike backwards. The LGBT rights issue is something that most political leaders are afraid to address. Even if they support freedom and are not afraid to speak out about Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, most of them are silent about the horrific crimes that are happening in Chechnya right now. Words are as powerful as silence when people suffer detention, torture, or even murder — just because they are who they are. What starts with associating LGBT people to freaks and cannibals, ends with taking away their freedom, their health, and their life without concern for human dignity.
Let’s be glad that more and more politicians care about LGBT rights. But it is not enough to notice and call out discriminatory laws or hate propaganda against gay people in education. The time is now to work to repeal those laws and counter the hate. Even if some people may never be “ready” to accept same sex relationships, the fight for freedom includes the fight for freedom of love. We cannot fake freedom, it comes with a responsibility to fight for it. And everyone’s freedom to love is a part of it — like everything else.
With real science as our ally, let us educate, let us act, let us spread love and liberty.
Roberta Dombrovskytė is the Vilnius Students for Liberty Communication manager, and a Public policy and Management graduate from Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania.