Lithuanian Minister of Justice: “Same-sex Couples are more Propaganda than Reality”

The Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania Juozas Bernatonis (Social Democratic Party) has proposed to register a bill that would introduce registered partnerships only for different-sex couples. According to the Minister of Justice, many unmarried couples today are living together in Lithuania; thus there is a pressing need to regulate this “widespread form of relationships”.

On June 3rd, 2015 during a live debate on the national television Mr. Bernatonis made the claim that the “number of homosexual couples living together in Lithuania” is “simply too low” to legislate on same-sex partnerships. The MP Dalia Kuodytė from the Liberal Movement, i.e. one of the authors of the currently pending bill to allow gender neutral registered partnerships, is convinced that the bill suggested by the Minister of Justice would further induce discrimination against same-sex couples in Lithuania.

“There are many unmarried couples living together in Lithuania. It is a pressing need to solve this problem. When it comes to same-sex partnerships, I believe that there are too few cases to even consider it. Ms. Kuodytė optimistically claims that such couples consist 10 % of our population, I believe no more than 1-2 percent. I am convinced that propaganda is more widespread in Lithuania than homosexual couples. When we speak about different forms of family life, I do not recognize that people of same-sex living together are able to create family relationships. And I am not the only one who thinks so,” Mr. Bernatonis claimed.

“You say there are some couples, for example, two women raising a child. In this case it is a child of the woman who gave birth to that child. There are many forms of agreements that same-sex couples could sign in. Anyway, when we talk about same-sex couples, questions about property rights are more relevant,” insisted the Minister of Justice.

“I would like to say that the concept of partnership itself is not familiar to Lithuanian society. Lithuanians are used to talk about living together and family, while partnership is most commonly related to business. However, the legislators are obliged to regulate other “phenomenon” if they become so widespread,” asserted Mr. Bernatonis.

A bill allowing registered partnership for both different-sex and same-sex couples was registered by nine members of the Parliament from the Social Democratic and Liberal Movement parties on March 25th, 2015. On May 6th, 2015 the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs decided that the Partnership Act does not violate the Constitution. However, only four out of seven committee members voted in favor of this ruling, and those who voted against it categorically maintained that partnership may only exist between a man and a woman.

On November 21st, 2014 the Minister of Justice Juozas Bernatonis claimed that Lithuania will not follow the example of its neighbor Estonia in introducing gender neutral registered partnerships. According to Mr. Bernatonis, same-sex civil partnership will not be legalized in Lithuania as long as he will be in charge of the Ministry of Justice.

The national LGBT* rights organization LGL expresses its grave concern regarding the remarks by Minister of Justice Mr. Bernatonis. These statements stand in a clear contrast with the mission of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania in respecting, protecting and promoting equality, acceptance, tolerance in the society and the rights of every Lithuanian citizen.