On 8th August, 2017 the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Lithuania announced that it had finished verifying signatures in support of the European citizens’ initiative “Mum, Dad and Kids – European Citizens’ Initiative to Protect Marriage and Family”. While verifying signatures collected in support of the initiative, the Commission found that 34,324 Lithuanian citizens’ signatures comply with legal regulations, while the remaining 4,808 are not valid.
According to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), a random sample of the signatures were verified in the Republic of Lithuania’s population register. Out of 873 randomly selected signatures, 812 were found to comply with legal regulations, while 61 were found invalid (incorrect personal identity code provided, not a Lithuanian citizen, incorrect surname, signed using both paper and electronic platforms). Out of the 6,836 electronic signatures collected and verified, 5,487 were found to comply with legal regulations, while as many as 1,143 were found invalid (incorrect personal identity code provided, not a Lithuanian citizen, signed after the end of the collection period, incorrect surname, signed using both paper and electronic platforms, duplicate signatures). The Commission determined, by extrapolating the number of valid signatures through statistical methods, that it could be confirmed that through its paper and electronic platforms, the initiative gathered between 37,651 and 38,811 signatures of agreement complying with legal regulations.
Although visual and statistical verification measures found a significant number of violations among the collected signatures, a working group designated by the CEC proposed recognizing 38,811 signatures collected by the initiative. The CEC has proposed issuing a certificate with the view of confirming this number.
On 8th May, 2017 the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL notified the CEC of the collection of invalid signatures. LGL appealed to draw the CEC’s attention to the fact that the organizers of the initiative “Mum, Dad and Kids”, which was registered with the European Commission on 11th December, 2015, continued to gather signatures after its collection period had already ended on 11th December, 2016. According to the organizers’ website, collection of signatures concluded on 3rd April, 2017, nearly 4 months after the collection period’s official end date.
The National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL also emphasized in its letter that the organizers’ deliberate collection of signatures after their official end date, as well as the deliberate submission of such signatures for inspection and verification by Member States, clearly constituted a “false statement” and should be appropriately penalized. Some Member States, such as Ireland, treat collection of signatures after the expiry of a petition’s 12-month term as a criminal offense under national law.
It is worth noting that on 9th April, 2017, the Free Society Institute, initiators of the “Mum, Dad and Kids” initiative within Lithuania, announced that about 50,000 Lithuanian residents supported the initiative.
“It is clear that the organizers of such initiative will use any means to oppose same-sex families’ right to enter into a partnership or marriage. The lack of transparency in the collection of citizens’ signatures says a lot about the initiative and its initiators. We hope that the Central Electoral Commission will be more scrutinising in its evaluation of improper collection of signatures in the future,” commented LGL’s Executive Director Vladimir Simonko.