In March, 2016 the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL, in cooperation with international human rights organizations „ILGA-Europe“ and „Sexual Rights Initiative“, made a joint Universal Periodic Review submission to the UN Human Rights Council on the LGBT* human rights situation in the country. The shadow report, submitted by LGL and its international partners, highlights the main challenges in ensuring the fundamental rights and freedoms for LGBT* people in Lithuania.
According to the LGL‘s shadow report in the period between 2012 and 2016 the Lithuanian authorities did not seek to comprehensively address the instances of social, legal and institutional discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. On the contrary, certain aspects clearly indicate that the human rights situation of LGBT* people in Lithuania is rapidly deteriorating.
First of all, the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information has been applied on three different occasions with the view of censoring LGBT* related public information. The Lithuanian authorities claim that this discriminatory interference with the right to freedom of expression is necessary to protect the “emotional, spiritual, psychological development and health of the minors”, thus creating a chilling effect on talking publicly about LGBT* issues in Lithuanian society. Secondly, in the period between 2012 and 2016 the Lithuanian Parliament has considered seven openly homophobic and/or transphobic legislative initiatives, effectively seeking to limit the rights and freedoms of LGBT* people. The vivid public debate around these legislative proposals has negatively impacted the social climate for LGBT* people in Lithuania, because it seemed as if fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBT* people could be simply revoked on a whim of political opportunism or discriminatory animus. Thirdly, the Lithuanian authorities have systematically failed in investigating reported instances of hate speech and hate crimes on grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In some cases the law enforcement officials simply refused to start pre-trial investigations, thus leaving the members of the local LGBT* community without any possibility of legal redress. Finally, Lithuania remains one of a few European jurisdictions without any procedures of legal gender recognition and gender reassignment treatment. As gender identity is not covered by Lithuanian anti-discrimination and hate crime legislation, transgender people remain disproportionally affected by instances of discrimination, harassment and violence.
The first report within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2011 and the third periodic report for the implementation of ICCPR in 2012 revealed that, according to the assessment by the international stakeholders, human rights of LGBT* people are not ensured to the full extent in the Republic of Lithuania. UN institutions provided Lithuania with a significant number of recommendations, related to the human rights of LGBT* people, which the Lithuanian Government had committed to implement. The follow up process on the implementation of these recommendations by the Lithuanian authorities will take place within the framework of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, which will take place in the UN headquarters in Geneva (Switzerland) in November, 2016.
The advocacy work of the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL on the UN level is supported by the German foundation “Erinnerung. Verantwortung and Zukunft (EVZ)”, which supports activities that tackle contemporary discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This submission does not represent an expression of opinion by the Foundation EVZ. The authors bear responsibility for the content.