The notoriously homophobic Lithuanian MP Petras Grazulis has got some explaining to do after a half-naked man appeared behind him in a Zoom call.
Grazulis, who’s known for his virulent anti-LGBT+ rhetoric and protests, was joined by a topless man halfway through a conference call of the Lithuanian’s parliament’s culture committee.
The MP had been experiencing technical difficulties with the call and it looked like the friendly naked bystander stepped in with a view to help.
The moment only lasted seconds as Grazulis quickly turned off his camera, and seconds later when he switched it back on the man was gone.
But the video spread across the internet like wildfire and Lithuanian media quickly seized on the scene, demanding to know who the mystery man was.
According to 15min, Grazulis reacted angrily to questioning and claimed it had been his son standing nearby, before changing his story half an hour later: it was Andrius Tapinas, a Lithuanian journalist who had been “persecuting” him for months.
“Yes, I said that [it was my] son, but looking at the video better, I can guarantee that Andrius Tapinas is there,” he insisted. “He’s haunting me everywhere, it’s no wonder that he got here.”
And the fact that the man in the video doesn’t look anything like Tapinas can be explained by advanced video technology. “Andrius could easily change his appearance,” the homophobic MP suggested.
By the time Petras Grazulis appeared in parliament the next day he had his story straight (or not, as the case may be), and was determined to get ahead of the rumours.
“So that you don’t ask, I answer you. Because already 10 members of the [parliament] asked me,” he told colleagues. “It was Andrius Tapinas, it really was Andrius Tapinas. And if you don’t believe it, ask him.
“I visit Gargždai, I visit my daughter in Palanga, and he stands under the windows. I’m in the Seimas, he’s in the dorm. He’s been haunting me for half a year now.
“It was Tapinas, have no illusions,” he concluded. “And no one should ask me personally.”
The journalist hasn’t commented on the scandal yet, so Grazulis is forced to face the music alone – but he wouldn’t be dealing with so much mockery if he wasn’t one of the strongest anti-LGBT+ voices in Lithuania.
The MP has frequently equated homosexuality with paedophilia, and in 2010 he proposed a law that would fine anyone who “promoted” homosexuality among minors.
“I support the position of the church, there is no doubt about it. These people are indeed sick and perverted. They pose a threat to society because they molest children,” he said.
In 2012 he gate-crashed an LGBT+ rights event attended by senior foreign officials and declared that all gay people should leave the country.
And as a homophobic publicity stunt in 2013 he delivered an offensive “present” to a Lithuanian LGBT+ group – a pair of men’s trousers with a zip directly where the buttocks met.