New Labor Code Does Not Prohibit Discrimination on Grounds of Gender Identity

The new Lithuanian Labor Code that takes effect on January 1 th, 2017 does not include gender identity as prohibited discriminatory ground. During the period between 2014 and 2016 the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL closely monitored the drafting developments of the new Labor Code and advocated for the recognition of gender identity. However the legislators chose to ignore this and the new Labor Code was adopted on September 14th, 2016 without inclusion of gender identity as a prohibited discriminatory ground.

The drafting period was prolonged due to political debates and the President’s Dalia Grybauskaitė attempts to veto the New Labor Code. LGL association used this opportunity and delivered the recommendations regarding gender identity recognition to the drafting group and the responsible supervisors of the Committee on Social Affairs and Labor and the Ministry of Social Security and Labor. The Office of The Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson was targeted as well and received a training by LGL on January 8th, 2016. During the training the importance to protect transgender people from discrimination in the field of employment was emphasized.

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Survey and Special Eurobarometer 437, Discrimination in the EU in 2015 revealed a systematic discrimination of Trans* individuals in Lithuania. According to FRA survey, 38 % of Trans* individuals in Lithuania felt discriminated during the period of last 12 months and as many as 52 % felt discriminated while applying for work. These results place Lithuania amongst least effective countries in European Union to fight discrimination of Trans* individuals. Furthermore, the research made by LGL  #TRANS_LT: Documenting Experience of Transgender People in Employment revealed that all respondents in the research faced instances of discrimination and often felt that current laws are insufficient to protect them. Therefore the inclusion of gender identity ground would have provided the minimal protection in employment field, as well as advanced social integration and build a trust between transgender people and the authorities.

 “The new Labor Code is vital in protecting employees from discrimination. Unfortunately, a part of our society was intentionally excluded from it,” – says the Executive Director of the association LGL Vladimir Simonko. “15 specific discriminatory grounds including sexual orientation are mentioned. It is obvious that legislators consciously chose to disregard socially vulnerable group of trans people”.

The increasing tendency in European Union and its member states to recognize Trans* human rights by implementing legal categories of gender identity and gender expression is being observed. Though the Republic of Lithuania seeks to establish high position regarding respect of human rights, ILGA Europe Rainbow Map reveals that country has chosen to remain stagnant, when it comes to the development of achieving Trans* rights.