Lithuanian capital elects first openly gay politician to city council

Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius

The newly elected LGBT+ politician has identified hate crime prevention, LGBT+ inclusion and equality mainstreaming as his political priorities. With 3000 priority votes, he has secured the seat in the Vilnius city council for a 4-year term. Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius was running in the list of the current liberal mayor Remigijus Šimašius, who got 17 seats in the 51-seat city council after the Sunday’s election.

“I am very happy with the results. The seat in the City Council will provide me with a platform to talk about LGBT+ topics more loudly. The LGBT+ legal situation remains challenging at the national level, so we have to intervene at the local level as well,” – said Raskevičius.

The mayor Šimašius made headlines shortly before the elections by visiting the local gay night club. The liberal politician said:”It’s time to say once and for all: Vilnius is a welcoming city for the LGBT community. If my visit here sends the signal that all citizens of the city can feel comfortable regardless of their sexual orientation, I am satisfied.” While Šimašius already has the biggest group in the council, he still has to face a runoff election for the mayor’s seat on March 17th.

According to the ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Map, Lithuania scores 37th place among 49 European countries in terms of protecting LGBT+ human rights. While discrimination is illegal, there is no recognition of same-sex families and positive information on LGBT+ topics is legally considered as “homosexual propaganda”. In January, 2019 the Lithuanian Constitutional Court passed a landmark judgment stating that same-sex partners are considered as families under the country’s Constitution.

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