Seven Homophobic and Transphobic Draft Laws Considered in the Lithuanian Parliament’s Autumn Agenda

On September 17th, 2015, the autumn work agenda of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania was approved and contains a long list of initiatives seeking to limit LGBT* rights.

Firstly, there is the infamous amendment to the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of Child of the Republic of Lithuania, prohibiting an “adoption of Lithuanian citizens by same-sex couples”. Though the legal experts of the Legal Department of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania stressed that the proposal to prohibit joint adoption by same-sex couples would violate the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), 39 out of 71 members of the Lithuanian Parliament present during the first hearing voted in favor of this proposal.

Furthermore, there is also a proposal, put forward by the MP Rimantas Jonas Dagys from the Homeland Union, to amend the Article 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, which states that “family is the foundation of society and the state” and is formed by the marriage of a man and woman, thus limiting the constitutional concept of “family life” exclusively for married couples.

R. J. Dagys also proposed to amend the Law on Fundamentals of Child Rights Protection of the Republic of Lithuania to specify that children have the “inherent right to a father and a mother.” Difference in parental genders allegedly ensures the protection of children’s interests in the event of foster-care or adoption, so laws claiming otherwise must therefore be prohibited. The politician has also registered these amendments in the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania, thereby seeking to further entrench these views. Furthermore, the legal regulations of family relations would be supplemented with the principle of “maternal and paternal mutual complementarity.”

There are also proposals to amend the Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Republic of Lithuania to ban speech, displayed objects, posters, slogans, audiovisual media and other actions that show contempt for “traditional family values”. Offenses would be punishable with a fine of a few thousand Euros. The proposal’s explanatory memorandum states that the amendment is necessary to ensure the protection of heterosexual people from discrimination during LGBT* events.

Lithuanian MPs proposed an amendment to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania to exclude the ground of sexual orientation from the prohibition of hate speech. According to this amendment, sexual behavior, practices, beliefs, critical opinions and discussions, or attempts to persuade others to change such behaviors, practices, beliefs and attitudes, do not constitute bulling, stigmatization, incitement of hatred, discrimination, or the promotion of discrimination. This amendment is of a clear discriminatory nature, as, according to the data from the Fundamental Rights Agency, homophobic and transphobic hate crimes remain highly underreported in Lithuania.

Despite the fact that Lithuania has lost the infamous case L. v. Lithuania before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the state is not hurrying to implement measures necessary for the protection of transgender rights. By failing to regulate gender reassignment procedures, MPs further aim to eliminate the possibility of undergoing such procedures in Lithuania all togehter and to legitimize the vicious practice of requiring individuals, who received treatment abroad, to apply before the national courts in order to change their identity documents.

Finally, upon the proposal by the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice, it is sought to create the institute of registered partnerships exclusively for different-sex couple, thus ignoring the legitimate interests of same-sex couples. Despite the fact that this motion is contrary to the decision by the ECtHR in the Vallianatos v. Greece case, according the Lithuanian Minister of Justice Juozas Bernatonis, there is “more propaganda than same-sex couples in Lithuania“.

The number of homophobic and transphobic initiatives has not been decreasing with each parliamentary session.  Due to the extensive lobbying efforts by the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL, none of these amendments have been passed up the present date. However, the proposal of such initiatives contributes to the promotion of a hostile social environment for LGBT* citizens in Lithuania.

The national LGBT* rights organization LGL expresses its deep concern over the legislative initiatives aiming at limiting the fundamental rights of LGBT* individuals in Lithuania. The association LGL hopes that discriminatory legislative initiatives will be prevented in the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania and the rights of the citizens of Lithuania will be respected without any discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.