Vilnius and its police force are poised for a legal battle over whether to maintain a rainbow-colored crosswalk in the Lithuanian capital.
The city council wants to keep the artwork to support LGBT rights, but police say it is against traffic regulations.
The Pylimo Street crossing was first painted in LGBT colors in 2018.
But earlier this year, a viral video on social media, posted by liberal MP Tomas Vytautas Raskevicius, appeared to show that the crossing was painted.
Police say two people have been fined for the incident.
What does the Vilnius city hall say?
“(The crossing) reflects the positioning of Vilnius as a tolerant city and the colorful element does not hinder or pose any threat,” said Paulius Vaitekenas, communications specialist with Vilnius city council.
He said the police offer to remove unfounded questions about the city’s right to support the LGBT community.
Vaitekenas said that similar symbols, representing the colors of the rainbow, are common on the streets of Europe and beyond.
What do the Vilnius police say?
The police argued, in an extensive response sent to Euronews, that the crossing did not comply with various Lithuanian laws and regulations.
“Pedestrian crossings on the streets must be installed in accordance with the rules on pedestrian crossings on roads and streets, approved by the Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania in 2020,” said Julija Samorokovskaja, head of communications of the Vilnius County Chief. Police Station (VCCPC).
Police also referred to additional road legislation and specified what paint and other materials can be used on road markings. They also specified the sizes of the rectangles and the spaces between them.
What do others think in Vilnius?
For some locals, this case speaks more of attitudes within the police department than of rules and regulations.
“Our cops know little about educational equity,” said Tomas Kirsa, who says he was the victim of a homophobic assault in 2019, which he says was only investigated by police after it came to media attention. the training will change everyone’s mindset. “
The success of law enforcement “should not be evaluated by (data) in Excel but by the actual decisions (they make),” he said.
“The same could be said about the crossing as well,” Kirsa said, before adding that LGBT rights in Lithuania should not be used for political purposes.
Raskevicius, who shared the video of the painted crossing, said he hopes the court battle will have broader ramifications.
“Let the court decide,” he said. “I wish that the battle for the symbols of the rainbow colors in the streets turns into fruitful discussions in our parliament while the association law is debated.”
The painting of the crossing occurred just one day before the start of Pride month, which is celebrated globally during June, and days after a bill to legalize same-sex couples in the country failed to overcome its first hurdle. parliamentary.
The bill, which aimed to grant LBGT couples access to certain benefits, including joint ownership of property and inheritance rights, sparked protests with thousands of people participating in a “Great March in Defense of the Family “in Vilnius last summer.
Although Raskevicius has promised to introduce the bill again in the fall, its adoption was postponed until the spring.
When will the court case take place?
A spokesperson for the regional court hearing the case told Euronews that all supporting documentation had been submitted and that the proceedings are likely to start in November.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism