"A Heart of Amber" ("Gintarinė Širdis"), a collection of fairy tales by Neringa Dangvydė, is now gone from the shelves of bookstores in Lithuania. The Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences penalized the director of the university press responsible for publishing the book and halted the distribution of the book itself, as it considers the published fairy tales to be "harmful, primitive and biased homosexual propaganda."
The stories, which were inspired by working with bullied children, discuss disability, same-sex couples, Roma, people with different skin color and other groups that often suffer social exclusion. The author hoped that these fairy tales would contribute to the promotion of tolerance in society and encourage respect of and recognition for diversity.
However, the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences and the Ministry of Culture, informed by the Lithuanian Parents' Forum and a conservative group in Seimas (Parliament) that the collection of fairy tales includes two stories about love between same-sex couples, decided that it was necessary to obtain a ruling from the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics. The Office, among other things, is responsible for monitoring adherence to the provisions of the controversial Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information.
The experts of the Office went on to determine that two of the fairy tales - "How the King's Son Sought Wisdom" and "The Princess, the Cobbler's Daughter and Twelve Brothers Who Sang as Nightingales" - belonged to the "category of information that had a negative effect on minors." According to the Office, the collection of fairy tales as a whole promoted a different understanding of what constitutes a marriage or a family to the one enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the country's Civil Code, while these two fairy tales in particular were "harmful, too invasive, direct and manipulative" for children below the age of fourteen. It was not recommended to prohibit the distribution of the book, but instead to limit access to it and mark the collection of fairy tales as "N-14" ("Not suitable for children below the age of fourteen").
Following this conclusion of the Office, the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences decided to put a full stop to the distribution of the book and to penalize the director of the university's press with a reprimand. The university claimed that it was sorry to have allowed such a book to see the light of day, and that it considered the two aforementioned fairy tales to be "harmful, primitive and biased homosexual propaganda." "Scientists, pedagogues and educators are of the opinion that a child who is not yet concerned with certain social problems - such as different sexual orientations, drug use, etc. - should not be subject to such information too early," reads the official statement of the University.
"If the publishing house will refuse to distribute the book or the Ministry of Culture will decide to take measures based on this very strange conclusion, and if the national courts fail to uphold the aforementioned right, I can see it going straight to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. I have no doubt that it will be determined that Article 10 of the Convention has been violated," stated Vytautas Mizaras, a lawyer and a professor at Vilnius University. According to Mr. Mizaras, the opinion propagated by the experts themselves poses a greater hazard to minors than the fairy tales analyzed.
Source of information: manoteises.lt
Manoteises.lt has started collecting signatures for the petition "Against censorship and for human rights and freedom of speech - return "A Heart of Amber" to the readers"
A digital copy of "A Heart of Amber," a collection of fairy tales, has been made available.