Lithuanian Parliament Proposes Total Ban on Legal Gender Recognition

On November 10th, 2017 the group of 31 MPs in the Lithuanian Parliament registered a legislative proposal, which aims at banning legal gender recognition (i.e. change of identity documents for transgender persons) and all medical procedures pertaining to gender reassignment treatment. This proposal stands in a sharp contrast with the jurisprudence of the national courts, granting legal gender recognition based on self-identification of a trans individual and corresponding mental diagnosis. If approved, Lithuania would become the only country within the broader region of the Council of Europe with an explicit ban on gender reassignment procedure.

The proposal No. XIIIP-1327 seeks to amend the Article 2.27 of the Civil Code and to establish the following: “1. Sex is genetically predefined characteristic of a person. Legal grounds for assigning one’s sex (either masculine or feminine) are based on genetically determined sex. 2. Pharmacological and surgical procedures, as well as psychiatric and psychological counseling, seeking to change genetically determined sex of a person (i.e. gender reassignment), are prohibited in the Republic of Lithuania.

The explanatory memorandum of the legislative proposal states the following: “Sex chromosomes (XX or XY) that are located in every cell of a human being indicate particular sex of a person. In addition to sex chromosomes, masculinity and femininity is imprinted in all parts of human body, its organs and tissues. For example, maps of the commissures of the brains among men and women are different, thus testifying to the principle of complementarity between sexes. […] Medical attempts of changing one’s sex and corresponding amendments to the personal identification documents can negatively impact the protection of the rights and freedoms of other, the protection of morals and the prevention of disorder and crime (e.g. the right of the parents to know the sex of their children’s physical education teacher; security and privacy of women in public restrooms, etc.). The proposed legislation seeks to unequivocally establish that [procedures] seeking to change characteristics of genetically predefined sex (i.e. gender reassignment) are prohibited in the Republic of Lithuania, thus preventing mutilation of perfectly health persons and eliminating illegitimate expectations. […] gender reassignment procedure is connected not only with the disproportionate financial burden upon the State, but also with the radical mutilation of a person, because physically healthy persons, who are capable of bearing their biological children, can be castrated by removing healthy organs, applying “treatment” of massive dosages of hormones, resulting in loss of fertility and in hazardous health consequences. […] not a small fraction of persons, who were subjected to gender reassignment surgeries, want to restore the characteristics of their true genetic gender after a few years, but the procedure of medical gender reassignment is an irreversible process. There is no possibility for restoring sex organs and their functions after gender reassignment surgery. Voluminous research indicates that gender reassignment surgeries do not help persons with gender identity dysphoria to become happier and to lead full-fledged lives. For example, in Sweden suicide rates among persons, who were subject to gender reassignment surgeries, are 19 times higher than country’s average. In relation to the facts that gender reassignment surgeries are not scientifically validated, there is a lack of evidence pertaining to their safety and efficiency. Therefore the introduction of these surgical procedures in Lithuania would violate the Law on the Rights of Patients, establishing a personal right to effective and appropriate healthcare. It also has to be noted that app. 80 % of persons, who had gender dysphoria in childhood and puberty, do not experience it in adulthood. These and other instances, when persons terminate gender reassignment procedure, because they wish to live according to their natural sex, testify to the fact that gender identity disorder can be cured.  Taken into account that transsexuality is a mental and behavioral disorder, transsexual persons should receive psychiatric and psychological help, aiming at restoring harmony between body and mind, accepting one’s genetic predisposition and not confusing these persons by allowing them to think that they can be somebody, who they are not according to their nature.”

The civil society organizations in Lithuania are of the position that this radical proposal by the group of 31 MPs has been tabled as a response to the progressive draft Law on Recognition of Gender Identity, registered by the Ministry of Justice on November 3rd, 2013. The draft Law on Recognition of Gender Identity seeks to establish administrative procedure, which would enable trans persons to change their identity documents based on their self-identification and corresponding mental diagnosis. No medical intervention would be required. This progressive legislative proposal is fully compatible with the jurisprudence of the national courts on granting legal gender recognition for transgender persons. The draft Law on Recognition of Gender Identity is fully supported by the local transgender community and human rights organizations in Lithuania.

“Transgender community and human rights organizations are terrified by this radical proposal to ban legal gender recognition procedure and all medical procedures pertaining to gender reassignment treatment,” – commented Tomas V. Raskevičius, Policy Coordination (Human Rights) of the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL. “One fifth of the Lithuanian MPs have undersigned the legislative proposal, which completely disregards scientific, legal and social realities of transgender persons in our country. It is high time the elected officials stopped inciting “moral panic” and started protecting human rights of Lithuanian citizens regardless of their gender identity and expression.”

In 2007 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case L. v. Lithuania concluded that legislative gap on gender reassignment in Lithuania constitutes a violation of the Convention. Due to lack of actions by the public authorities, the case was transferred to the enhanced supervision procedure in September, 2014. In March, 2017 the Lithuanian Government ordered the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health to prepare the necessary legislation with the view of enabling gender reassignment procedure in the country. In April, 2017 the national courts in a ground breaking decision removed the requirement for transgender persons to undergo gender reassignment surgery with the view of changing personal identification documents. At the moment Lithuania remains one of the few European jurisdictions, where there is no administrative procedure for legal gender recognition.