Professor V. Mizaras: „Lithuania would violate ECHR by introducing only different-sex partnership“

By treating different-sex and same-sex unmarried couples differently, Lithuania would violate the European Convention of Human Rights, Professor of Law Vytautas Mizaras from Vilnius University argued on the June 3rd, 2015.

The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania is intending to propose a partnership law that would apply only to different-sex couples. According to the expert on constitutional law Vytautas Mizaras, the Strasbourg based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) would find that Lithuania violated its citizens’ right by either leaving current gap in legislation intact or legislating on different-sex partnerships only.

According to the professor, some of the existing laws provide certain rights to unmarried cohabiting different-sex couples, but not to same-sex couples living together. If the proposed law on registered partnerships by the Ministry of Justice were adopted, there would be a clear discrimination between different-sex and same-sex unmarried couples. “There are major problems regarding possible violations of international law standards. Specifically, the adoption of the law itself would probably not run counter to the ECHR. But its implementation would obviously discriminate against same-sex couples in the course of factual family relationships,” the law professor claimed.

A bill allowing gender neutral partnership was registered by nine members of Parliament from the Social Democratic and Liberal Movement political 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. Those who voted against it categorically maintain that partnership may exist only between a man and a woman. The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania insists on introducing registered partnerships only for different-sex couples.

The Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania, which came into force in 2001, provides for the possibility of registering a partnership as a form of cohabitation without marriage, but in reality the provision is not implementable, because there is still no law on partnerships.