The Lithuanian Parliament Makes the First Step towards Banning Gender Reassignment

On 23 May 2013 the Lithuanian Parliament made a first step towards explicitly prohibiting the procedure of gender reassignment in Lithuania by placing the corresponding amendment to the Civil Code on the parliamentary agenda. 36 MPs voted in favor of the proposal, 3 MPs – against and 1 MP abstained (the full voting results can be found here).

At present, the Civil Code provides that an unmarried adult is entitled to undergo gender reassignment surgery if it is possible medically, while the conditions and procedure of gender reassignment are set by legislation. No such legislation has been passed, however. In November 2011 3 MPs from the Homeland Union (i.e. Antanas Matulas, Vida Marija Čigriejienė, Arimantas Dumčius) submitted a draft amendment to the Civil Code, prohibiting gender reassignment surgeries. The initiators of the draft amendment propose that the current provisions on gender reassignment in the Civil Code are deleted and replaced by the provision that gender reassignment surgery is prohibited in Lithuania and that civil registry entries concerning gender reassignment surgeries performed abroad be amended by court decision only.

The explanatory note on the controversial proposal states that Lithuanian society ‘views gender reassignment as very controversially; society is not ready to accept gender reassignment practices due to certain psychosocial reasons, and therefore the permission to undergo gender reassignment surgeries will lead to a number of medical and ethical issues’.

Moreover, it ignorantly states that it is impossible to reassign gender surgically because it ‘is determined genetically from the very moment of conception’ and that gender reassignment procedure ‘is associated with the radical impairment of a person, because physically healthy persons who are able to conceive and raise children are castrated in this manner’. ‘Because, according to the International Classification of Diseases ICD-10, transsexuality (F64.0) belongs to the group of personality development and behavioural disorders of adults, help to transsexuals must be psychotherapeutic in nature and aimed at restoring the harmony of a person’s body and mind’, states the explanatory note.

The Legal Department with the Office of Seimas has provided its opinion that the draft amendment not only interferes with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), but also contradicts the legal principle of legal certainty.

It has to be noted that this is the third attack by the Lithuanian Parliament towards the local LGBT* community in this week. On 21 May 2013, Seimas accepted the amendment to the Code of Administrative Violations by introducing administrative liability for “public denigration of constitutional moral values and of constitutional fundamentals of the family life, as well as organization of public events contravening public morality” (proposed by MP Petras Gražulis) and the amendment to the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child stipulating that “every child has the natural right to a father and a mother, emanating from sex differences and mutual compatibility between motherhood and fatherhood” (proposed my MP Jonas Rimantas Dagys) for the parliamentary deliberation.