LGL Launches Second Documentation Report on Implementing CM/Rec(2010)5 in Lithuania

In 2010 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. All Member States including Lithuania agreed upon this Recommendation. In July, 2018 the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL prepared a documentation report to assess what actions have been taken by the Lithuanian authorities to implement the Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 at the national level. The report identifies the main areas of concern for securing human rights of LGBT persons in Lithuania, namely (a) “anti gay propaganda” legislation to censor LGBT-positive public information; (b) legal recognition not available for same-sex families; (c) no administrative procedure for quick, accessible and transparent procedure for legal gender recognition and corresponding healthcare; (d) systematic failure in preventing anti-LGBT hate crimes and hate speech.

Despite the challenging legal and social situation of LGBT persons in Lithuania, significant advancements on LGBT human rights recently have been made through strategic litigation efforts before the national and international courts. The Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 has served as a soft law measure informing the strategic litigation process both in terms of identifying relevant legal gaps and encouraging the courts to apply the European standards in responding to these legal challenges. The first documentation report on monitoring the implementation of the Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 in EN-ataskaita-Sveicaru-internet-1-1-1Lithuania, produced by LGL in 2013, assisted the organization in developing its evidence-based advocacy and impact litigation strategies. The second documentation report seeks to enable the organization to forward its advocacy agenda on the national level, especially taken into account that its priorities are already supported by the ongoing strategic litigation efforts. While the second documentation report covers all thematic areas outlined in the Appendix of the Recommendation, it specifically focuses on the following priority areas, namely: (a) “anti-gay propaganda” legislation (freedom of expression), (b) legal recognition of same-sex relationships (right to respect for family life), (c) legal gender recognition (right to respect for private life) and (d) effective response to anti-LGBT hate crimes and hate speech (right to life, security and protection from violence). The main purpose of the second documentation report is to demonstrate the failure by the Lithuanian authorities in implementing the necessary protections for LGBT people in these particular areas and thus to support the ongoing advocacy and strategic litigation efforts. By documenting the extent to which the Recommendation’s measures remain to be implemented in Lithuania, the reporting organization will be able to better inform its efforts based on the standards by the Council of Europe. The second documentation report does not reveal absolutely new gaps in implementing the Recommendation. However, it serves as an effective tool to monitor the progress (in comparison to the first documentation report) and as a repeated reminder to the Lithuanian Government on what remains to be done.

In addition to its national objectives, the second documentation report also seeks to strengthen the Council of Europe’s work on sexual orientation and gender identity by informing various stakeholders (i.e. the Human Rights Commissioner, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and the Council of Europe SOGI Unit) about the LGBT human rights situation in the individual Member States. It is expected that strong pressure from civil society organizations at both national and European levels will ensure ongoing engagement of national governments in the implementation of the Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5, especially in countries where there is a lack of political will to work on LGBT human rights.

“We Are People, Not Propaganda”: Monitoring Implementation of the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 to Member States on Measures to Combat Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, Documentation Report, 2018