“Freedom House”: Lithuanian LGBT community remains discriminated

Non-governmental organization “Freedom House” in its report “Freedom in the World 2015” paid attention to LGBT rights issues.

According to the annual report, LGBTI rights remain a polarizing and highly controversial issue. Deputies submitted several antigay bills in 2014. In particular, Rimantas Dagys of the TS-LKD and Petras Gražulis of the TT submitted several anti-gay bills in 2014. The bills sought to legally define the family as a married heterosexual couple with children, establish fines for “public family defilement,” and ban same-sex couples from adopting children. The Seimas voted against or postponed all of the bills. Lithuania’s civil society rating remains unchanged at 1.75.

“Freedom House” also drew attention to the audiovisual advertisement of National LGBT* Organization LGL. In August, television channels refused to broadcast the Lithuanian Gay League’s (LGL) advertisement promoting the rights of LGBTI people, arguing that the ad violated the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information. The inspector of journalist ethics agreed that the video was harmful to minors. In October, LGL took the inspector’s decision to court, but the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court declared itself incompetent in the matter. After the Supreme Administrative Court rejected their appeal in December, the league partnered with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Europe (ILGA-Europe) and filed a complaint with the European Commission.

At the same time, the civic sector remains fragmented, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are challenged by low public participation in addition to limited administrative and financial resources. While NGOs and civic groups function without interference from authorities, some groups, such as LGBTI rights activists, sometimes face harassment. Outside of overt harassment, those participating in civil society activism may be at a higher risk for losing their jobs or being discriminated against.

Besides, a proposal to ban sex reassignment surgery stalled in 2012, but these procedures are still not possible under the Civil Code. While the code theoretically allows for such surgery in the case of unmarried adults, it stipulates that certain medical regulations must first be enacted by law. A bill that would have done so was voted down in July 2014.

Founded in 1941, “Freedom House“ advocates for greater political rights and civil liberties, and support frontline activists to defend human rights and promote democratic change.