The Prime Minister of Lithuania chose Valentine’s Day to solicit political support of same-sex couples.
The Delfi reported Wednesday that Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis used an LGBT rights rally in the capital of Vilnius to call on the Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas, to pass legislation for registered same-sex partnerships, which includes property protections for same-sex couples.
“There are registered amendments to the law that would allow us to properly regulate the legal relations between the persons living together in terms of the protection of their personal data and property relations; that is, I think that there is sufficient regulation at least at this stage,” Skvernelis told activists at the rally, according to the Delfi.
LGBT activists in Lithuania welcomed the Prime Minister’s words.
“The Prime Minister of Lithuania actually said that he would be in favor in some way of regulating LGBT partnerships,” said Mykolas Knyza, chairman of the Lithuanian Liberal Youth Organization in a Facebook message to The Daily Beast. “That is a step forward, because the ruling coalition was hesitant of even discussing LGBT problems, and any attempts of pushing it forward were dismissed right away.”
For a Valentine’s Day stunt, Lithuanian LGBT political groups created a man-controlled robot costume to “mock” marry same-sex couples outside a government building in the country’s capital. The event, called the “wedding of the century,” occurred two days before the 100th anniversary of Lithuanian Independence.
Artūras Rudomanskis, chairman of the Tolerant Youth Association said the robot signified “bureaucracy.”
“We do not consider that weddings are something holy dropped down from heaven,” said Rudomanskis in a Facebook message to The Daily Beast. “We believe that this is a civil act, in which people are given certain responsibilities and rights.”
Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, human rights policy coordinator of the Lithuanian Gay League, said the LGBT community deserved legal recognition.
“The current situation demands the immediate response by the local politicians through introducing the registered partnerships for same-sex couples,” said Raskevičius in an email to The Daily Beast. “At the current stage we do not advocate for marriage equality in Lithuania.”
“We are a bit concerned that the ‘robot wedding’ might distract the public attention from the actual needs by the local LGBT community. Nevertheless, we applaud the active civic engagement by the organizers,” Raskevičius added.
According to organizers, only a few residents were “displeased” with the “LGBT propaganda.”
Same-sex activity was decriminalized in the country in 1993, nearly two years after Lithuania’s split from the Soviet Union. When Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004, they implemented the commission’s anti-discrimination policy, which includes sexual orientation. Lithuanian lawmakers have found loopholes in the laws, however, which has limited LGBT rights.
Last June, the parliament rejected a bill for same-sex marriage. In November, the Lithuania government proposed a ban on legal gender recognition for transgender people and gender-reassignment surgeries, the Delfi reported. According to Pink News, Lithuanian schools are prohibited from teaching students about same-sex relationships.
Two years ago, the Lithuanian parliament rejected a bill for same-sex civil partnerships; 27 members voted in favor of the law, 25 voted against, and 16 abstained from voting, reported the Delfi. That year, an amendment to the law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child, denied same-sex adoption, stating that “every child has the natural right to a father and a mother.”
“Love is meant to be for everyone,” Knyza said. “Sadly, laws in Lithuania are not.”