The Conservatives Support Same-Sex Partnerships in Lithuania?

The candidates to Lithuanian Seimas felt the need to speak about tolerance and human rights prior to the upcoming election to the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania. Gabrielius Landsbergis, MEP and the Chairman of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats party, expressed his support for same-sex partnerships during the discussion, organized by youth organizations on September 6th, 2016.

The conservative leader Gabrielius Landsbergis expressed his hope that the matter of legalizing same-sex partnership will be resolved by the newly elected Parliament. His opinion was supported by Saulius Skvernelis, a member of Lithuanian Green Party, while representatives of Liberal Movement Party and Social Democratic Party of Lithuania claimed that they also support same-sex marriage.

During the discussion with young voters, the candidates to Lithuanian Parliament were asked whether they support legalization of same-sex marriage in Lithuania and adoption by same-sex partners.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, MEP and the Chairman of the Homeland Union party, surprisingly expressed his support to same-sex partnerships. So far, the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats voted against any initiatives concerning the protection of LGBT* human rights and supported homophobic bills at the Lithuanian Parliament.

“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.

Eugenijus Gentvilas, representative of the Liberal Movement Party, expressed his support to same-sex marriage. It should be noted that for several years this party consistently supported the idea of legalizing same-sex partnership in Lithuania.

“The liberals recognize family, created by initiative of people rather than on the basis of regulation of the government,” said the leader of the Liberal Movement Party in a multi-member constituency.

In Mr. Gentvilas opinion, same-sex partnership will be legalized prior to same-sex marriage. However, the representative of the Liberal Movement Party expressed his reservations on adoption by same-sex partners. “I do not support adoption by same-sex partners. I support same-sex marriage,” claimed Mr. Gentvilas.

Marius Skarupskas, a member of Lithuanian Social Democratic Party and Deputy Minister of Agriculture, supported same-sex marriage as well.

“The social democrats support same-sex marriage, such is the position of the left. On adoption – I think we should take one step forward, and then we will think about the other. I think that such coalition is about to be formed,” claimed Mr. Skarupskas.

Although the progressive social democratic wing declares its support for LGBT* human rights, the majority of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party does not support initiatives concerning the protection of LGBT* human rights. Last year nine Liberal and Social Democratic lawmakers registered a bill, allowing registered partnerships between both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. However, Lithuanian Social Democratic Party and Algirdas Butkevičius, its leader and Prime Minister of Lithuania, did not support it and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania registered an alternative bill, allowing opposite-sex partnerships only.

Order and Justice Party and Labour Party – categorically against same-sex marriage

Gediminas Banaitis, a member of Order and Justice Party was categorically against same-sex marriage.

 “I think that everyone has the right to decide how to live, who to live it with and how to live it. For one thing, however, it cannot be advertised. Secondly, when we talk about children, they, too, have the right to live naturally, as is formed by nature. And later, when they grow up, they can choose differently,” argued Mr. Banaitis.

Valentinas Mazuronis, MEP and the Chairman of the Labour Party, agreed.

“No. In my opinion, people can live together as they wish. There is a matter of partnership. I understand family as created by a man and a woman, who raise children,” declared Mr. Mazuronis.

According to Mr. Mazuronis, people can live together “as long as they do not disturb other people”.

LGL‘s Policy Coordinator (Human Rights): It is time to legalize same-sex partnerships in Lithuania

“We are glad about the fact that the candidates of 4 largest political parties, likely to be represented in the Parliament, are in favor of same-sex partnerships. However, 2 parties stick to an opposite position,”  commented LGL‘s Policy Coordinator (Human Rights) Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius.

According to LGL‘s Policy Coordinator (Human Rights), it is time to legalize same-sex partnerships in Lithuania. However, the Parliament plans to discuss the Constitutional amendment of article 38, which underlines that “Family life is emanating from traditional marriage between a man and a woman […] family arises from motherhood and fatherhood”. This amendment not only contradicts state’s international obligations, but also discriminates various Lithuanian families.

“The party leaders expressed their support to same-sex partnerships. They should respectively vote against the Constitutional amendment. It would be amazing to see that the position of party members is reflected in the official party programme,” claimed Mr. Raskevičius.

According to LGL‘s Policy Coordinator (Human Rights), it is becoming unpopular to speak out against LGBT* rights in the context of public relations. The politicians attempt to find a consensus in a dialogue. This may represent a qualitative change – people who have worked in the European Union institutions are coming to politics.

At the moment Lithuania, together with other 7 Member States of the EU, does not legally recognize same-sex relationships. The legal status of cohabitating same-sex couples is not defined and they cannot make use of opportunities available for married couples, ranging from inheritance rights to receiving information about partner’s health condition at medical establishments in case of an illness.