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2021.03.22 12:30

Minister asks to investigate calls to shoot gay Lithuanian MP at anti-lockdown rally

LRT.lt2021.03.22 12:30

Alleged incitement of violence against an openly gay Lithuanian MP during an anti-lockdown rally last weekend should be investigated by the police, a liberal party leader has said.

Several hundred people took part in the anti-lockdown rally in central Vilnius on Saturday, which was authorised by the municipality.

A video from the event has captured one of the participants, Vitolda Račkova, reading out a letter written by someone else. The letter mentions Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, an openly gay Lithuanian MP, saying “he is anti-state. People like him should be shot, at least one a year.”

On Monday, Aušrinė Armonaitė, the economy minister and the leader of Raskevičius' party, turned to prosecutors asking to investigate the incident as hate speech and incitement to violence.

Raskevičius himself responded to the speech on social media, joking that he would like to pick a method of his own execution.

Member of the liberal Freedom Party, Raskevičius has been elected to parliament last autumn on a platform of LGBTQ+ rights and legalising same-sex partnership.

He was recently targeted by a petition asking that he be removed as chairman of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee.

Saturday's rally, entitled “United for Freedom”, involved calls to lift lockdown restrictions, stop vaccination against Covid-19 and resume free travel.

Anti-lockdown protests were also held in Germany and some other European countries.

Read more: Lithuania's religious leaders voice opposition to Istanbul Convention and same-sex partnership

Last year, Lithuanian TV host and former parliament speaker Arūnas Valinskas made similar comments about MEP Valdemar Tomaševski, accusing him of pro-Russian sympathies. “People like him should be shot dead, frankly. One every year. Starting with him,” Valinskas said in an interview.

His comments were widely criticised, but prosecutors decided against charging Valinskas with incitement to violence.

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