The ECtHR published a decision in the case Macatė v. Lithuania

The long-awaited decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Macatė v. Lithuania was published already. The decision analysed the validity of restrictions on the distribution of Neringa Dangvydė Macatė’s fairy tale book “Amber Heart”.

The book’s distribution was limited due to the content of several tales depicting same-sex relationships. The ECtHR indicated that such distribution restriction constitutes discrimination based on sexual orientation and violates Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which enshrines the right to freedom of expression. The court concluded that the author’s book was illegally removed from the market. The court also found that information cannot be considered harmful simply because it contains information about same-sex relationships.

“Ellex Valiunas” represented the author in this case on a pro bono basis and is happy to contribute to the protection of LGBTI rights throughout Europe and beyond, as well as spread ideas of diversity and tolerance. Marijus Dingilevskis, a senior associate of the firm (previously – former partner of the firm, now a judge of the Constitutional Court, Prof. Dr. Vytautas Mizaras) worked on the case together with Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law.

Let us remind you that the book contains stories about various groups experiencing social exclusion and discrimination – the disabled, emigrants, homosexuals, and people with skin colour different from the majority, Roma, etc. The fairy tales are created according to the traditional model, feature magical characters, and use motifs that the reader should recognize from the folk or classic Brothers Grimm, Pero’s or H.K. Andersen’s texts, conveying contemporary social realities.

Arguing that fairy tales featuring homosexual characters could harm minors, the book’s distribution was restricted. The ECtHR indicated that such a ban is not justified – the dissemination of information about same-sex relationships just expresses respect for models of same-sex relationships and promotes tolerance.

On the author’s initiative of the book, the case reached Lithuanian courts in 2014 and the ECtHR in 2019.

We dedicate the case to the memory of the author.

Gintarine sirdis