Gender-Neutral Partnership Proposal Meets Failure During its First Reading in Seimas

Gender-neutral partnership bill was registered in the Lithuanian Parliament on May 21, 2021, returning the question of same-sex union recognition to political agenda after staggering four-years break.

While it does recognize same-sex unions, the bill does not reference the concept of family, nor it addresses regulations related to child adoption.

It does not make a reference to a discriminatory general condition: article 3.229 of the Lithuanian Civil Code states that its provisions shall regulate the relations in property of a man and a woman who, after registering their partnership in the procedure laid down by the law, have been cohabiting at least for a year with the aim of creating family relations. 

Amending the aforementioned general rule would also directly counteract the discriminatory implication of the infamous anti- gay propaganda provision, stating  that public information which expresses contempt for family values, encourages the concept of entry into a marriage and creation of a family other than stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania could be regarded as having  a detrimental effect on the development of minors.

If passed, gender-neutral civil partnership would be a first substantial step after long 20 years wait towards responding to the legitimate expectations of couples who currently cannot assume marital obligations, thus it bears a particular importance to people in de facto same-sex unions.

Just about a week before the bill registration in the Parliament, Big Family Defence March (Didysis šeimos gynimo maršas) took place in the Lithuanian capital. According to various media reports it gathered around 10 000 people, attracting a wide array of traditional family values supporters ranging from catholic priests to former affiliates of the organized criminal groups.

Partnership bill, although considerably moderate in its wording, failed to pass the first reading in the Lithuanian Seimas, with 63 MPs voting in favour, 58 voting against and 7 abstaining. Gender-neutral Partnership bill was voted against by several members of the ruling conservative-liberal coalition: 12 Homeland Union MPs and 2 liberals of the Liberal Movement. It was also rejected by 5 social democrats and most opposition groups.

However, the motion was passed by a vote of 75 against 5, sending the proposal back to its authors for improvements. It is expected that the updated version of the Partnership bill would be presented in the upcoming autumn.