Lithuanian Draft Law of Equal Treatment: Another Missed Opportunity?

This September Lithuanian Parliament began to review a new legislative proposal on Lithuanian Law of Equal Treatment amendments, initiated by the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson.

While the draft law introduces quite a few well-needed changes, such as including the definition of associative discrimination, it does, however, ignore the burning questions of transgender individuals, arguably, the most discriminated against of all LGBT groups in Lithuania.

There is no law establishing conditions and administrative procedures of gender reassignment and a lack of such provision resulted in Lithuania losing a resonant case of L. v. Lithuania in Strasbourg back in 2007. Contrary to the European Court of Human Rights ruling, Lithuania still has not adopted this law, leaving transgender individuals only with an option of applying to national courts regarding gender reassignment, rather than using a less costly and time consuming administrative procedure.

Draft Law of Equal Treatment amendments failed to extend a list of grounds of prohibited discrimination, not including gender identity as such, which might result in transgender individuals having no legal mechanism effectively securing them from possible discrimination in a variety of spheres, such as education or work.

It also should be underlined that in the Lithuanian Constitutional Court January 11 ruling no. KT3-N1/2019 it is implied that the content of Article 29 of the Constitution also includes the restriction of rights based on individual’s gender identity as a form of prohibited discrimination.

Special Eurobarometer 493 on Discrimination: the social acceptance of the LGBTI people published on September 23, 2019 revealed that 47% Lithuanians oppose civil documents change for transgender individuals while 41% Lithuanians would feel “uncomfortable” having a transgender co-worker.