Every third pupil in Lithuania is directly influenced by hate speech. Compared to other European Union countries, Lithuania comes last to dealing with hate speech and intolerence between youngsters in schools. Race, sexual orientation, political, religious and cultural views – these are just a couple of many reasons, why people commit hate crimes and use hate speech in their daily basis online and offline.
About the project
To reduce hate speech and intolerence in Lithuania, Association “Active Youth” held a youth training on the 13th to 23th of May (+2 travel days), 2017 in Kaunas, Lithuania. The goal of the project “Make Love Speech” – find effective ways to combat hate speech and intolerance in Lithuania and spread the word of kindness, love and friendship
Activity during project
During project we had guests from different Lithuanian NGO’s, who work on the topics of Human rights, No Hate Speech movement, LGBT and etc. Representative from “Love Panda” (No Hate Speech movement ambassadors in Lithuania) taught us about the media literacy and how to spot false information online, Human rights monitoring institute gave a lecture about the ways we could inform youth on human rights in Lithuania and where to get help, if our rights are threatened. Tolerant Youth Association (TJA) has taught us about effective methods, which could be implemented in schools in regards to tolerant view towards LGBT and other minority groups. Together with Lithuanian Deaf Institute participants learned about the hate speech towards people with hearing deficiencies and how we, as a society, can can help prevent this phenomenom and participants had an opportunity to practically apply their knowledge on defining, which cases of internet discussions and comments are hate crime, defined by Lithuanian law, and which are not.
Participants also had world cafe discussions, through which they had an opportunity to share their experience and insights on hate speech and hate crimes in Lithuania and Europe. After the discussions, divided into groups, they had to come up with strategies, which could help combat the spread of hate speech in Lithuania. The use of media and theater was taken into account, as it proved progressive and effective way to communicate ideas of protecting ones human rights, free and hate-free speech.
Trip to reabilitation center
Hate speech and intolerance is a key issue in modern society, but unfortunately we tend to forget that hate speech, sneering happens not only on personal level, where person, as an individual, expresses his hate towards certain people or group of people, but on broader level as well. After visiting “Valakupių reabilitation center”, participants developed a better understanding of how society has a negative impact on people with pysical and psychological disabilities. They are at a great disadvantage when looking for a job or a place to call home. “Valakupių reabilitation center” provides the tools and knowledge necessary to acquire new skills, required in certain workspaces, such as jewelry, carpenters, smithery and similar to help people with disadvantage reintegrate to the society and feel as equals in modern society. Participants were surprised byt the detailed work visitors have made and the methods center workers use to negate negative impact (hate speech) and create a loving and home-like environment.
Today we can find hundreds, or even thousands of social experiments, trying to answer different questions and ideas, concerning current stereotypes and stigma. “How will the person react, if he sees a gay couple kissing?”, “What is the perfect man and woman in today’s society?”. Driven by these and many other questions, participants of the project marched into the streets with their cameras in hands to capture the essence of social experiments. Participants had an opporutinity to apply the knowledge gained in the field, seeing how people react to different uncomfortable situations, for example: pedestrians were asked to record their best wishes to the newlyweds to later be informed, that this will be used for homosexuals couple. Using newly gained knowledge and experience, participants moved forwards in the project to come up with ways to combat discrimination in different groups of people.
“Make Love Speech” movement
In group work, participants were creating plans and ideas, how intolerance and hate speech could be negated in Lithuania and how we could enlighten youth on human rights and their importance in todays society. Through all the ideas and knowledge gathered in social experiments, discussions, reabilitation center and their personal knowledge, they established social initiative “Make Love Speech”.
“Free Hugs Kaunas!”
“Hugs – it is a wonderful and warm thing you can give, which provides a lot of happynes and love!” – driven by these words, participants of the project initiated social event “Free hugs Kaunas“. Participants went out into Kaunas streets to give out free hugs to the pedestrians, who felt like they needed or wanted one. The aim of this event was to spread the love and happynes, regardless of the peoples race, gender, cultural, religious or other beliefs and etc.
“Make Love Speech GMD Kaunas”
On the third sunday of May, every year musicians from all over Lithuania go into streets to do open permonace and surprise and inspire people with their creations. Project participants wanted to contribute to this amazing community feeling, which gave fruition to this event. A big flag, showing the logo of the movement was created and locals were invited to get free hugs and take a photo near the wall.
“Make Love Speech” in Kaunas Municipality
On the last day of the project, participants had the opportunity to present the movement and the project itself to the Lithuanian NGOs of national and regional level. Discussions on possible cooperation between organisations and what measures could and should be taken in solving the issue of intolerance, hate speech and spreading love speech both in Kaunas and in Lithuania.
Make Love Speech events around Lithuania and Beyond
Since the end of the key training programme, the participants have carried out a number of different social actions under Make Love Speech all across Lithuania and beyond. Free hugs campaigns were made in various Lithuanian cities (incl. Kaunas, Vilnius, Taurage, Trakai, Kernave, and more). At the same time Make Love Speech movement was spread in Austria and even Mexico!
You can find moments from the local events organised by the participants on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/MakeLoveSpeech/.
Success of the project
Organisers and mentors of the project
The organizers describe the project as a success in all senses. Both the informal learning process, as well as the sharing of participant experiences among each other worked really well. Knowledge assessments done by every participant on the first and the last day of the exchange have shown an increase of over 50% on average in the knowledge of hate speech and human rights.
Even though the project has ended, participants are actively creating new events and ways to spread love around Lithuania. One of the events is “Free Hugs”, which was first done in Kaunas as a starting event for the movement.
“Free Hugs” social event has been created not only in Kaunas, but in Vilnius, Ukmergė and Tauragė cities as well. “Make Love Speech” project participants, now officially “Make Love Speech” movement ambassadors are not planning to stop any time soon and they plan to hug and spread Love speech all around Lithuania! <3
More information on the upcoming events and the social initiative itself can be found HERE.
If you want to join us and create your own “Make Love Speech” event in your town, feel free to contact us on our page <3
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Project’s schedule, activities & material:
- Schedule of the Project.
- Info pack of the project with all the information for project participants.
- Summary of the research that was presented to the participants at the beginning of the project.
- Examples of hate speech in Lithuania.
- Current knowledge assesment which was handed out for participants to fill out in the beggining of the project
- Results of the current knowledge assesment.
- Speed Friendship questions.
- World Cafe – list of topics.
- “Eye contact” video that was shown as an insipiration for social initiative to the participants.
- Quotes used for social event “Make Love Speech GMD”
- Example of how quality video is created.
- Project activities in the eyes of the participants.
- Make Love Speech movement vision and future
Information About the Project on the Web / Media:
- Biggest Kaunas news media (kas vyksta Kaune?) about our social action
- EFHR (European foundation of human rights) about our project.
- Open call for our project from European youth information center “Žinau viską”
- Best project moments in Facebook.
- “Young Maltese” NGO sharing our song.
The list is constantly being updated.
The funding of the project
This activity is supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. It is a unique foundation supporting activities developed with, for & by young people. You can check their poster here.
We encourage other youth NGOs to apply for funding through the programme as well. You can find information about it in the links here: (1) information about the foundation; (2) who can apply; (3) what projects are supported; (4) how to apply; (5) useful resources.