Lithuanians are fighting to flood their country with hundreds of rainbow flags following a suspected homophobic arson attack against an artist in Vilnius.
Police offers in Vilnius warned gay filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas to remove a rainbow flag from his balcony after a fire was deliberately set inside his apartment building last week. The fire, which damaged the apartment of one of Zabarauskas’ neighbours, is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
Instead, Zabarauskas teamed up with human rights advocate Tomaš Ilja to launch a rainbow flashmob, raising thousands of euros overnight to buy 500 more flags and distribute them for free across Vilnius.
The pair also called on others to hang rainbow flags from their own windows and balconies and share photos with the hashtag #LGBTdraugiškaLietuva (LGBT-Friendly Lithuania).
“I actually am very proud that we unfurled the rainbow flag,” Zabarauskas told The Calvert Journal. “I’m happy to see rainbow flags in three buildings surrounding mine. This gives me comfort, a sense of security and pride. There are and will be criminals in every society, but it’s important how we react to them.”
The campaign comes just weeks after the headquaters of Lithuania Gay League was targeted in a similar attack, which saw the outside of their building doused in flammable liquid before being set alight in the early hours of the morning.