Lithuanian Homeland Union Party Torn by Disagreements on Same-Sex Partnerships

On September 10, 2016 the members of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats party convened a Council meeting. Since Gabrielius Landsbergis, MEP and the Chairman of the Homeland Union party, had spoken about his support for same-sex partnerships, Irena Degutienė, the party’s Vice-Chairperson, felt the need to address the divisions within the party on the issue during the Council meeting.

“As a true conservative, after receiving such a question, I should evidently leave, I should be very afraid. However I support [same-sex] partnerships, I think the time for it has come. I hope that the newly elected Parliament or our coalition will eventually bring this issue to the Parliament and we will adopt same-sex partnerships,” said Mr. Landsbergis during the meeting with the voters.

Mr. Landsbergis did not mention the latter statement during the Council meeting. However, Ms. Degutienė felt the need to address it during her speech. The Vice-Chairperson reminded the party members that the comments by Mr. Landsbergis were a “personal opinion” and thus “did not represent the party’s official position”. Ms. Degutienė reiterated the Homeland Union’s “commitment to support traditional families”.

“We have an official Homeland Union’s program. Homeland Union’s program has not been changed to this day, because it can be changed only by the party Congress. It cannot be changed by current or future party faction or by single member of the Parliament,” stressed Ms. Degutienė.

The Vice-Chairperson praised the democracy at work in her party. “I am pleased that our party is democratic, there is an opportunity to speak freely and express one’s position without fear that someone will condemn you. However, the party program was always oriented towards family values, towards the idea of family, and despite failing to change the Constitution regarding the definition of family, I am hopeful that stronger forces will emerge in the newly elected Parliament and we will be able to amend it,” commented Ms. Degutienė.

Ms. Degutienė was adamant that Conservatives are not a “moralist party” and they are “not trying to teach anyone how to live their lives”. However, she believes that party members “know the meaning of family, especially in the current context of worsening demographic situation”.

“We want to see such families in the future Lithuania. Of course, we respect everyone else, however, our attitudes <…> have not changed. They were the same, they are the same, and, I hope, they will remain the same,” stressed the Vice-Chairperson of the Homeland Union party.

According to Ms. Degutienė, “the issue of same-sex partnerships is not the most important”, there are more serious issues and, therefore, it should be put aside.

“When I read [about this issue], I imagine that someone is very pleased <..> to see attention diverted from the issues that are much more important today and have shaken the society more,” argued Ms. Degutienė.

On June 28th, 2016 the Lithuanian Parliament voted in favor of the constitutional amendment, which seeks to eliminate same-sex couples from the ambit of the constitutional concept of family life. 74 MPs voted in favor of the constitutional amendment, 19 MPs voted against and 20 MPs abstained. In order for it to be adopted, the Lithuanian Parliament will have to vote in favor of the amendment twice, securing the majority of 94 votes in favor on both occasions. There has to be at least three (3) months break between the two votes.