On January 22nd, 2016 the Lithuanian Migration Department refused to issue a temporary residence permit to a Belarusian man, who is married to his Lithuanian same-sex partner in Denmark. The Migration Department’s decision can be appealed within 14 days at Vilnius Regional Administrative Court.
“The decision is to refuse a permit to temporarily reside in Lithuania on the basis of family reunification,” commented Tomas Berčinskas, an adviser to the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania.
Evelina Gudžinskaitė, acting head of the Migration Department, said that the decision was made in accordance with the position of the Ministry of the Interior.” Since this case was the first of its kind and it is setting a precedent, we turned to the Ministry of the Interior for an opinion, as this institution is responsible for migration policy,” argued the spokesperson of the Migration Department. “The Ministry of the Interior responded that same-sex marriages are not allowed in Lithuania and such a marriage is not recognized in Lithuania,” acting head of the Migration Department concluded.
Under the law concerning the legal status of foreigners, foreign nationals can apply for a residence permit on the basis of family reunification.
However, at the moment Lithuania, together with other 7 Member States of the EU, does not legally recognize same-sex partnerships. The legal status of cohabitating same-sex couples is not defined and they cannot make use of opportunities available for married couples, ranging from inheritance rights to receiving information about partner’s health condition at medical establishments in case of an illness.
Nevertheless, the provisions governing the free movement of persons are laid down in Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of EU citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.
Family includes people married to EU citizens or registered partners, as well as their children. The marriage does not have to been conducted in Lithuania, but this was the first, yet presumably not the last case where Lithuanian institutions had to consider a same-sex marriage.
The National LGBT* rights organization LGL expresses its grave concern over the Lithuanian Migration Department’s refusal to issue a temporary residence permit to a same-sex spouse of a Lithuanian citizen. The position of the Lithuanian Migration Department and the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania stand in a clear contrast with their mission to oversight public safety, border protection and migration control in respecting, protecting and promoting equality, acceptance, tolerance in the society and the rights of every European citizen.