On 10th December, 2015 the National LGBT* rights organization LGL addressed the members of the Lithuanian Parliament regarding the effective implementation of the human rights standards for transgender individuals. In its formal address on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day LGL seeks to draw the attention of the lawmakers that the absence of gender reassignment procedure is one of the most pressing human rights issues in Lithuania.
Transgender individuals remain to be one of the most socially vulnerable and discriminated social groups in our country. According to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), as many as 60 % of transgender individuals in Lithuania have experienced physical or sexual violence and harassment in the course of the last five years. The irresponsiveness by the public authorities, which main purpose is to serve all individuals equally, to the specific needs of the local transgender community highly contributes to this alarming situation.
Despite the fact that Article 2.27 of the current edition of the Civil Code, which came into force in 2001, foresees that “unmarried person of full legal age has the right to changes one’s gender medically”, the enabling legislation on conditions and procedure of gender reassignment still has to be adopted. In 2007 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has delivered judgement in the case L. v. Lithuania. The Strasbourg court mandated that the Lithuanian Government has to terminate the continuing violation of the Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by regulating conditions and procedure of gender reassignment. This decision by the ECtHR has not been implemented yet.
On November 9th, 2015 the Ministry of Justice submitted to the Government a legislative amendment to the Civil Code, establishing that legal gender recognition will be provided only after the accomplishment of “surgical correction of secondary sex characteristics”. However, the submitted amendment does not foresee a legal obligation of providing health care services for transgender individuals. To put it in other words, the Republic of Lithuania seeks to impose requirements, which are impossible to fulfil – in order to obtain legal gender recognition, one has to undergo the full gender reassignment treatment, despite the fact that it is not possible to accomplish it in Lithuania at the moment.
The proposed regulation also ignores the needs of transgender individuals, who do not wish and/or cannot alter their gender medically, but still seek to obtain legal gender recognition. That kind of recognition is essential in seeking successful integration in the economic and social life of the country. At the moment seventeen European countries – including Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark – provide for the possibility of legal gender recognition without the compulsory requirement of gender reassignment surgery. The analogous position was articulated by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its Resolution 2048(2015). The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe recommended in the Human Rights and Gender identity Issue paper of 2009 that sterilisation and other compulsory medical treatment as a necessary legal requirement to recognise a person’s gender identity in laws regulating the process for name and sex change should be abolished. He also recommended that gender reassignment procedures, such as hormone treatment, surgery and psychological support should be made accessible for transgender persons.
In relation to the fact that currently the Lithuanian Government is proposing the procedure, which does not effectively implement the human rights standards for transgender individuals, the National LGBT* rights organization LGL applied to the members of the Lithuanian Parliament requesting to actively engage in the process of the consideration of the proposed amendments to the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania in order to ensure the introduction of the quick, transparent and accessible gender reassignment procedure in Lithuania. In turn, the representatives of LGL would be glad to further discuss the good practices in foreign jurisdictions and to make concrete proposals on the effective implementation of the human rights standards tailored to the specific needs of transgender individuals.