LGL Submits Shadow Report to Universal Periodic Review

On 12th October, 2018  the National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL, in cooperation with international human rights organization “ILGA-Europe” , Transgender Europe (TGEU) and “OII Europe” , made a joint Universal Periodic Review submission to the UN Human Rights Council on the LGBT* human rights situation in the country. The shadow report, submitted by LGL and its international partners, highlights the main challenges in ensuring the fundamental rights and freedoms for LGBT* people in Lithuania.

This   submission,  outlines  the  main  challenges  in  ensuring civil and political rights for LGBTI people in Lithuania. In the period between 2012 and 2018 the Lithuanian  authorities  did  not  seek to  comprehensively  address  the  tendencies of  social, legal  and  institutional  discrimination on  the  grounds  of sexual  orientation  and  (or) gender identity.  On  the  contrary,  certain  aspects  indicate  that  respect  for  human  rights  of LGBTI people in Lithuania is deteriorating.

First  of  all,  the Law  on  the  Protection  of  Minors  against  the  Detrimental  Effect  of  Public Information has been applied on three different occasions with the view of censoring LGBTI related   public   information.   The   Lithuanian   authorities   claim   that   this   discriminatory interference with the right to freedom of expression is necessary to protect the “emotional, spiritual, psychological development and health of the minors”, thus creating a chilling effect on talking publicly about LGBTI issues in the Lithuanian society.

Secondly, Lithuanian remains one of a few jurisdictions in the European Union without any legal   recognition   of   same-sex   relationships.   The   Lithuanian   Parliament   has   not   only dismissed   a   bill   on   introducing   gender-neutral   registered   partnerships,   but   now   is considering a legislative motion on “cohabitation agreements” which would strip same-sex couples of the family status all together.

Thirdly,   the   Lithuanian   authorities   have   systematically   failed   in   investigating   reported instances of hate speech and hate crimes on grounds of sexual orientation and (or) gender identity.  In  some  cases, the  law  enforcement  officials  simply  refused  to  start  pre-trial investigations,   thus   leaving   the   members   of   the   local LGBTI community   without   any possibility for legal redress.

Fourthly,  Lithuania  remains  one  of  a  few  European  jurisdictions  without  any administrative procedures  of legal  gender  recognition  and  gender  reassignment  treatment. Despite  the fact    that transgender    people    remain    disproportionally    affected    by    instances    of discrimination,  harassment  and  violence,  gender  identity is  not  covered  by  Lithuanian  anti-discrimination  and  hate  crime  legislation. Since  April,  2017  as  a  result  of  strategic  litigation efforts  the  right  to  legal  gender  recognition  is  granted  by  the  national  courts  without  the sterilization requirement,  i.e. based solely on mental diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’ and self-identification.

Finally, in the period between 2012 and 2018 the Lithuanian Parliament has considered nine openly homophobic  and  (or)  transphobic  legislative  initiatives,  effectively  seeking to  limit the  rights  and  freedoms  of LGBTI people.  The  vivid  public  debate  around  these  legislative proposals has negatively impacted the social climate for LGBTI people in Lithuania, because it seemed as if fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBTI people could be simply revoked on a whim of political opportunism or discriminatory animus.

ICCPR Submission: Lithuania (LGL & ILGA). June 11th, 2018