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Vytis Jurkonis from the NGO Freedom House.
Vytis Jurkonis from the NGO Freedom House.

Lithuania fights for LGBT+ rights, in photos

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The Baltic Republic, where gay marriage is illegal, is slowly opening up a political and social space for the LGBT+ community. Here are some of the people, gay and straight, who are driving that change

  • A mural next to a train station in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The original mural showed Donald Trump, the President of the United States, and Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, kissing on the lips. It was repainted when neighbors complained.
    1A mural next to a train station in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The original mural showed Donald Trump, the President of the United States, and Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, kissing on the lips. It was repainted when neighbors complained.
  • Vytis Jurkonis, project director at the Lithuanian branch of Freedom House NGO, in his office. Freedom House fights for LGBT+ rights in the small Baltic state. Jurkonis is also a university professor, and many of his students have come out and given rise to political change in the municipality.
    2Vytis Jurkonis, project director at the Lithuanian branch of Freedom House NGO, in his office. Freedom House fights for LGBT+ rights in the small Baltic state. Jurkonis is also a university professor, and many of his students have come out and given rise to political change in the municipality.
  • Vladimir Simonko, co-founder of the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL). Simonko is a pioneer in the fight for LGBT+ rights in the country. For the first time this June, Vilnius will host Baltic Pride, which will include rights movements from both Estonia and Latvia.
    3Vladimir Simonko, co-founder of the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL). Simonko is a pioneer in the fight for LGBT+ rights in the country. For the first time this June, Vilnius will host Baltic Pride, which will include rights movements from both Estonia and Latvia.
  • Vladimir Simonko, co-founder of Lithuanian Gay League (LGL), stands above a pride flag painted with the support of volunteers. There are very few visible LGBT+ symbols in Lithuania.
    4Vladimir Simonko, co-founder of Lithuanian Gay League (LGL), stands above a pride flag painted with the support of volunteers. There are very few visible LGBT+ symbols in Lithuania.
  • British councilor Mark Adam Harold photographed at Vilnius City Hall, a tall glass building that looks over the Baltic city. Harold fights for and talks about themes that aren’t usually discussed, such as LGBT+ rights, arms control and drug abuse.
    5British councilor Mark Adam Harold photographed at Vilnius City Hall, a tall glass building that looks over the Baltic city. Harold fights for and talks about themes that aren’t usually discussed, such as LGBT+ rights, arms control and drug abuse.
  • Mark Adam Harold in his seat in the municipal chamber.
    6Mark Adam Harold in his seat in the municipal chamber.
  • A street musician in Vilnius. Lithuania decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, just two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    7A street musician in Vilnius. Lithuania decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, just two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • Tomas V. Raskevicius, Vilnius’s first elected gay councilor, in the City Hall building. Raskevicius presents himself as a “professional gay” because he used to defend LGBT+ rights as a lawyer. At the beginning of 2019 he walked through the streets dressed as a woman in a viral campaign that contributed to his election in March.
    8Tomas V. Raskevicius, Vilnius’s first elected gay councilor, in the City Hall building. Raskevicius presents himself as a “professional gay” because he used to defend LGBT+ rights as a lawyer. At the beginning of 2019 he walked through the streets dressed as a woman in a viral campaign that contributed to his election in March.