Days before the fourth Baltic Pride March for Equality in Lithuania, a new edition of LGBT+ friendly maps was launched in Vilnius and Kaunas.
This time, the maps were, for the first time, financially backed by Vilnius City Municipality, which elected its first openly gay councillor Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius in April, according to a press release.
”Lithuanian cities welcome free and diverse people. Let’s celebrate this diversity, because this is how we move forward,” says the long-time activist and human rights lawyer Tomas.
”When I was a teenager, I could not imagine that I would become the first out LGBT+ council member of the capital city. It definitely gets better. In a wheelchair, with a rainbow flag or a hijab – we can challenge stereotypes only by getting to know each other, and that’s why Friendly City’s message is so important.”
At the launch party of Friendly City maps, 100 rainbow flags were given away, helping to spread the message of solidarity. 20,000 free copies of Friendly City maps are now being distributed around Vilnius and the second city Kaunas.
The project was launched in 2012 by filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas as an initiative to increase LGBT+ visibility. He was joined by Mark Adam Harold, a former Vilnius City Council member, and the project grew to include other “friendly” categories, encouraging shops and restaurants to have wheelchair access, vegan options or simply be welcoming to pets. In addition to printed maps, all the friendly venues can be found online at friendlycity.info website. Around 70 businesses and 10 NGOs support the friendly message.