On 11th July, 2017 the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania voted in favor of the amendment to the Law on Equal Opportunities of the Republic of Lithuania, submitted by MPs Petras Gražulis and Agnė Širinskienė, proposing to delete any references to registered partnership in the definition of family formed by EU and EEA citizens. 70 MPs voted in favor of this proposal, 5 MPs voted against, 7 MPs abstained.
An alternative proposal to amend the Law on Equal Opportunities of the Republic of Lithuania proposing to include registered partners of EU and EEA citizens as family members was submitted by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania with the view of transposition of the Directive 2014/54/EU by the European Parliament and the Council of 16 April 2014 on measures facilitating the exercise of rights conferred on workers in the context of freedom of movement. The purpose of the introduced amendments is to establish legal standards against discrimination on the basis of citizenship for the citizens of the EU and EEA member states and their family members.
The Articles 5 and 6 of the amendment (XIIIP-837) proposed to define the definition of citizenship as follows:
„Citizenship – nationality of citizens of the Member States of the European Union and of the countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) and of their family members. Family members of a Member State of the European Union or of a Member State of the European Economic Area are the spouses or direct beneficiaries of registered partnership, including the direct descendants of the spouse or the person with whom the registered partnership agreement is concluded <…> .“
However, on 4th July, 2017 the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania refused to recognize the rights of European Union citizens who entered into registered partnerships abroad, i.e. outside Lithuania. The legal motion was refused due to the concerns that partnerships in some jurisdictions can be registered among same-sex couples as well.
During the discussion on the amendment to the Law on Equal Opportunities of the Republic of Lithuania, proposed by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, at the plenary session MP Rimantas Jonas Dagys (Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrat Political Group) has protested a definition of family formed by couples who entered into registered partnership calling such proposal a “controversy”. He was seconded by MP Povilas Urbšys (Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union Political Group) who called on MPs “not to hurry to include couples who entered into registered partnership into definition of family”. MP Tomas Tomilinas (Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union Political Group) referred to the possibility for the Member States to regulate on the definition of family according to their legislation as envisioned in the Directive, and calling this vote at the Parliament “a matter of values and ideology”.
MP Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen (member of Committee on Human Rights of the Lithuanian Parliament and Liberals Movement Political Group) stressed that transposing the definition of family to include registered partners does not force Lithuania into adoption of any legislations, but recognizes such partnership concluded in the Member States where such regulations exist. Although during the initial Committee hearing prior to the vote on 4th July, 2017 the proposal to exclude couples who entered into registered partnership with EU and EEA citizens has been rejected, on July 5th, the Committee came in support to the proposal put forward by MP Petras Gražulis (Order and Justice Political Group) and Agnė Širinskienė (Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union Political Group).
„This amendment the Law on Equal Opportunities sends a clear signal that same-sex partners are not considered as family by the Lithuanian legal system. It is very hard to comprehend the level of homophobia prevalent within the Lithuanian Parliament. It is time for Lithuanian Parliament to recognize same-sex partners as family. According to the European Court of Human Rights, the definition of family today includes not only married opposite-sex couples and their children, but also same-sex partners and their children,“ commented Vladimir Simonko, Executive Director of the National LGBT* rights organization LGL.
The term for transposition of the Directive was set to be 21st May, 2016.
On 15th June, 2017 the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania voted down a proposal by liberal MPs to amend the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania, aiming at recognizing the legal status of both different-sex and same-sex couples. 29 members of the Lithuanian Parliament voted in favour of the proposal, 59 voted against, 20 abstained.
In May, 2017 the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union Political Group of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania together with other members of the Lithuanian Parliament registered an alternative proposal to amend the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania proposing to regulate partnerships by way of cohabitation agreement. On 30th May, 2017 the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania agreed to consider this proposal. The authors of the amendment to the Civil Code propose a term “agreement for cohabitation” that would allow two or more cohabitants to realize certain property rights without an intention to create family relations. With 46 in favor, 6 opposing and 17 abstentions, the draft proposal has been approved for further consideration in the Lithuanian Parliament. LGL believes that this alternative proposal falls short behind the legitimate expectations by the same-sex couples in Lithuania, because it prevents same-sex partners from being legally recognized as family members.