Lithuanian parliament votes down conservatives bill on ethnic minorities

DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

In the initial vote, the draft changes to the Law for the Protection of Rights and Freedoms of Persons of Ethnic Minorities and Communities were supported by 40 parliamentarians, eight were against and 43 abstained.

The parliament had earlier given its initial go-ahead to the bill initiated by the then ruling Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (LLRA) party, but with changes.

The LLRA-proposed bill allowed the use of ethnic minority languages in state agencies and organizations in areas with dense non-Lithuanian speaking populations, along with bilingual signs. However, in the discussion of the draft in July, parliament crossed out the provision on bilingual signs.

Adoption of the law was initially planned in the autumn session, but after the LLRA left the ruling bloc in July, Parliamentary Speaker Loreta Graužinienė said in her presentation of the tasks for the plenary that the bill was not a priority.

The Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania consequently registered another draft law on ethnic minorities that would allow even broader official use of minority languages. It would not only allow bilingual signs but also put the state under the obligation of financially supporting ethnic minority groups.

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