LGBT rights in Lithuania

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LGBT rights in Lithuania
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Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1993,
age of consent equalized in 2004
Gender identity/expression -
Recognition of
relationships
No recognition of same-sex couples
Restrictions:
Article 3.12 of Civil Code limits marriage to man/woman
Adoption No joint adoption by same-sex couples
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protections (see below)

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Lithuania, but neither gay-marriage nor civil same-sex partnership are available. Although homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993, the historic legacy has resulted in limited rights for gays and lesbians. Protection against discrimination was legislated for as part of the criteria for European Union accession and in 2010 the first gay pride parade took place in Vilnius.[1]

Attitudes

Negative attitudes against gay and lesbian men and women remain entrenched. A European Union member poll, conducted in 2006, showed Lithuania at 17% support for gay marriage and 12% for rights of adoption.[2] A poll conducted in 2009 showed that only 16% of Lithuanians would approve of a gay pride march in the capital Vilnius and 81.5% of respondents considered homosexuality as a perversion, disease or paraphilia[3]. Another study, conducted in 2009, showed that 42% of respondents would agree on a same-sex civil partnership law, 12% – same-sex marriage, 13% – right to adopt[4].

There is only a small "gay scene" in Vilnius, Kaunas and KlaipÄ—da. Elsewhere in Lithuania, however, the sparse population means there is no active or prominent "gay scene".

Since the country's 2004 EU accession, the situation of the LGBT community has neither improved, nor worsened, mainly because the Government feels not obliged to actively protect LGBT rights any more despite the pressure from the EU. A media campaign against LGBT people was launched by the tabloid Respublika in 2004 - 2006. While about two thirds of the members of parliament declared their hostility to LGBT people during the campaign[5].

In 2007, Vilnius City Council refused to grant the permission for the public meetings of LGBT people on May and October citing "security reasons".[6][7]

Vilnius' city council allowed Lithuania's gay pride parade, Baltic Pride 2010, to take place on Saturday, 8 May 2010. A court stopped the parade from proceeding shortly before the parade was due to take place after the Attorney General acted. The Attorney General, Raimundas Petrauskas, cited security as the reason for his involvement. President Dalia GrybauskaitÄ— voiced her opposition to the court ruling through her spokesperson citing the constitutional right to peaceful assembly. This decision was overturned by a higher court just one day before the parade took place. With a heavy police presence, Baltic Pride 2010 took place to much violence from opponents of gay rights.[8][9]

Public laws

Same-sex sexual activity, which was illegal in the Soviet Union, was legalized in Lithuania in 1993. The age of consent was equalized in 2004, at 14 years of age in order to fulfil European Union accession criteria against discrimination.

Discrimination protections

According to the Law on Equal Treatment 2005, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is banned in the areas of employment, education and access to goods and services.[10]

The amendments to the Law on Equal Treatment repealing the prohibition to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation were under consideration by Seimas (Lithuania's parliament) since 5 June 2008[11], but they were rejected when Seimas adopted the new version of the Law on 17 June 2008.

Law on the Protection of Minors

The amendments to the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information, effectively banning the "promotion of homosexual relations" and allegedly aimed at limiting the rights of LGBT people, were proposed in 2006, 2007 and 2008.[12]

The Lithuanian parliament had approved the new version of the law which was scheduled to be enacted on 1 March 2010 [13]. Even though it was vetoed by the president citing "lack of definitions"[14], the veto was repealed by the Parliament. By that time in its wording the law forbid "propaganda of homosexual, bisexual or polygamous relations". According to some politicians who voted in favor, the possibility of defining "propaganda" should be left to lawyers.

On 17 September 2009 the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the law and requesting the EU Fundamental Rights Agency to issue a legal opinion on it.[15] On 10 November 2009, the Lithuanian parliament (Seimas) answered by adopting a resolution requesting the Government to seek the invalidation of the EP Resolution, which it condemned as an unlawful act.[16][17] The EU Fundamental Rights Agency wrote to the European Parliament that it was not going to submit the requested legal opinion, given that it had no mandate to evaluate the legislation of Member States.

The newly elected president expressed her strong disapproval to the law and as a consequence she formed a commission to elaborate a draft in order to repeal the discriminatory provisions. On 22 December 2009 the clauses banning the promotion among minors of "homosexual, bisexual, and polygamous relations" were in fact eliminated, but as a compromise, the paragraph was replaced by the following text: it is forbidden "to spread information that would promote sexual relations or other conceptions of concluding a marriage or creating a family other than established in the Constitution or the Civil Code"[18][19]. It has been argued that this provision is the first step towards instituting ban on criticizing Government and its decisions and thus - a menace to the democracy in the country[20]. Proponents of the law claim to be led by a desire to protect traditional family and children, some of them have expressed an opinion that the law would ban any information in public about homosexuality, regardless of its accessibility to minors[21] or ban any public discussions and homosexuality related events[22]. The new version has been signed by the president motivating "the homophobic provisions have been repealed", though it is not clear what actual effect the law will have after coming into legal effect.

Significantly, the same law forbids mocking and defiance on the grounds of the sexual orientation. The law enacts a number of other amendments, such as prohibition to promote unhealthy nutrition to minors, ban on information that "profanes family values", depiction of hypnosis etc.

The amendment has been compared sometimes to Section 28, the act which prohibited discussion of homosexuality in UK schools.[23]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

There is no law permitting the recognition of same-sex couples in Lithuania. Article 38 of the Lithuanian Constitution states "Marriage shall be concluded upon the free mutual consent of a man and a woman"[24]. This is interpreted as a ban on same-sex-marriage.[25] Same-sex marriage is also explicitely banned in Article 3.12 of the country's Civil Code stating that "Marriage shall be concluded with a person of the opposite sex only" [26].

In 2008, a new type of guidelines – "National Conception of Family Policy" – has been adopted[27]. The guidelines for future national legislation defines marriage as a "union between a man and a woman" and uses it in entire text. Same-sex couples are implicitly excluded from the Family Policy.

Gender identity/expression

Article 2.27 of the Civil Code allows any non-married person to change legal gender if this is medically possible. The second paragraph states, however, that the procedures for changing gender should be led according to a separate law. The Parliament and the Government of Lithuania refuses to take any actions on adopting such a law after it lost the case L v. Lithuania in the European Court of Human Rights in 2007. In March 2009, several members in the Parliament proposed to eliminate this provision[28].

Adoption and family planning

In general couples must be married to adopt in Lithuania, and subsequently same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt. The article 3.210 of the Civil Code states, however, that in exceptional cases single persons may be granted. In that case the decision goes to social workers. Nevertheless, the Commission of Family and Child Affairs of the Lithuanian Parliament "expressed a concern if there were enough legal barriers to prevent people of non-traditional orientation to adopt". Specialists have confirmed that barriers are in place, though it is possible to circumvent them[29]. In consequence, the adoption by single homosexuals in practice is not legally possible.

Military service

Gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the military.

Summary table

Homosexuality legal Yes Since 1993 (with the adoption of the new Criminal Code)
Equal age of consent Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes
Recognition of same-sex marriage No Constitutional ban since 1992
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Adoption by single gays No Not permitted in practice
Adoption by same-sex couples No Only married couples may adopt
Fostering by same-sex couples No
Gays allowed to serve in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender No The possibility exists in the Civil Code, but cannot be applied
Access to IVF for lesbians No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No (lifetime[30])

See also

References

  1. Vilnius approves gay pride parade
  2. angus-reid
  3. http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/article.php?id=22822011
  4. http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/article.php?id=23338407
  5. Quoted from article "Ar virš Lietuvos dar normalus dangus?" (Is the sky still normal over Lithuania?), Respublika, December, 2005
  6. Lithuanian mayor bans gay rally, BBC News, 26, October, 2007
  7. Lithuania - Amnesty International Report 2008. Amnesty International. Retrieved on 2009-10-09.
  8. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5540305,00.html
  9. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gB8TJlMBmHEBjfFk12j-OCOa3iewD9FINCM00
  10. European Fundamental Rights Agency Report on Homophobia, p. 30
  11. "EU blasts Parliament on gay rights vote", Baltic Times, 12 June, 2008
  12. "Lihtuanian MPs consider law against "promotion" of homosexuality to children", Pink News, 2009-01-27. Retrieved on 2009-10-09. 
  13. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+WQ+E-2009-0060+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN
  14. [1]
  15. Phillips, Leigh. "EU parliament condemns Lithuanian anti-gay law", EUobserver, 2009-09-17. Retrieved on 2009-09-18. 
  16. http://www.lithuaniatribune.com/2009/11/10/the-controversial-lithuanian-law-on-protection-of-minors-%E2%80%93-lithuanian-parliament-v-european-parliament/#comment-546
  17. [2]
  18. http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/seimas-palaimino-nepilnameciu-apsaugos-istatyma-be-nuorodos-i-homoseksualius-santykius.d?id=27105399
  19. http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/lithuania_defies_eu_to_promote_family_values/
  20. http://www.delfi.lt/news/ringas/lit/mkluonis-nepilnameciu-istatymo-pataisos-seima-kankina-vienos-tiesos-nostalgija.d?id=26304395
  21. http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/nepilnameciu-apsaugos-istatyma-norima-taikyti-net-vaikams-neprieinamai-informacijai.d?id=26084253
  22. http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=348492 So we propose to establish a limit that the promotion in public places is not possible in order to protect the mentioned three articles of the Constitution, but without doubt in some interior premisses those people have the right to organize events, to promote, to discuss
  23. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-13242.html
  24. Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania
  25. "Lithuania could follow in Latvia's footsteps on banning gay marriage" , The Baltic Times, December 24, 2005
  26. [3]
  27. [4]
  28. [5]
  29. The Lithuanian National Television portal
  30. http://www.kraujodonoryste.lt/get.php?f.803

External links

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