Book showing child-friendly same-sex marriage, European Court

Book showing child-friendly same-sex marriage, European Court

Calling a fictional book referring to same-sex marriage harmful to children violates freedom of expression, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in a statement on Monday. historic decision.

“Restricting the children’s access to this information did not pursue any objectives which it could accept as legitimate,” the court said. bed.

The case pitted the Lithuanian government against the author of a collection of fairy tales whose story revolved, in some cases, around same-sex marriage. (For example, a passage in one of the books describes a princess and a cobbler’s daughter sleeping in each other’s arms after their wedding.)

Distribution of this book, “Gintarinė širdis” or “Amber Heart”, was suspended shortly after its publication, in March 2014. When it resumed a year later, the books were distributed with a label warning that their contents could be harmful to children under 5 years of age. 14.

The author, Neringa Macatė, filed a civil suit against the book’s publisher in Lithuania, arguing that references to same-sex relationships could not be considered harmful to children. After her claim was rejected by Lithuanian courts at all levels, she filed a petition before the ECHR in November 2019. She died in 2020.

In its ruling, the court found that “the measures against the petitioner’s book were intended to limit children’s access to information depicting same-sex relationships as substantially equivalent heterosexual relationships.”

According to the court, this violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which refers to freedom of expression.

The court was not convinced by the Lithuanian government’s argument that the book had “promoted homosexual families over others”.

“On the contrary, fairy tales had advocated respect and acceptance of all members of society in a fundamental aspect of their lives, namely a committed relationship,” reads the court ruling.

This is the first case where the ECHR has been called upon to rule on the restriction of access to children’s literature referring to homosexual relationships.

The decision was famous by LGBTQ+ rights organizations.

“Child protection or public morals are too often used as a convenient pretext to restrict free speech, demonize and discriminate against members of the LGBTQI+ community,” said Barbora Bukovská, Senior Director of Law and Policy at the human rights NGO Article 19. .

“With today’s verdict, the European Court has rejected this kind of scaremongering tactic and made it clear that it cannot be tolerated.”

Wilhelmine Preussen contributed reporting.