Sarah speaks to the European Parliament about proposed homophobic legislation in Lithuania

Sarah Ludford on behalf of the ALDE Group. - Madam President I hope very much that Lithuania will learn from the experience in the UK which went through its own agonies of having a law which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools. David Cameron then Conservative leader and now Prime Minister said 18 months ago that his party was wrong in its support for that 1988 law which was subsequently repealed. Indeed David Cameron predicted that the first openly gay Prime Minister in the UK would be a Tory. We will see but that is what he predicted.

So you could see a huge change in attitudes in the space of two decades. This development in attitudes which my colleague Charles Tannock knows a lot more about and this move by the centre right are reflected in a quite modest and moderate EPP resolution and indeed in Simon Busuttil's opening remarks. I am hopeful that the EPP might be able to rally to the main resolution if most of their amendments are accepted in the vote tomorrow.

The situation in the UK has been transformed to the extent that the proprietors of a small guest house were today forced to pay compensation to a gay couple whom they refused to allow to stay in breach of the law. As the judge remarked these proprietors were perfectly at liberty to hold or discuss their personal views on homosexuality but what they could not do was discriminate on the basis of those views. It is talk discussion debate right of assembly that would be affected by the proposed Lithuanian laws.

Banning the promotion or propagation of homosexuality is likely to have a chilling effect on free speech and discussions as the Fundamental Rights Agency has pointed out. I join Sophie in 't Veld in calling for an EU roadmap to combat homophobia and discrimination and I call on everyone across the political spectrum in this House to unite in support of the whole range of human rights.

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