Strategic litigation on LGBTIQ rights – accessible alternative to an uncertain political process

From 26th to 27th, 2022 Lithuanian lawyers Monika Antanaitytė and attorney-at-law Aivaras Žilvinskas met with the legal experts of the organization Deystvie (Bulgaria) in Bucharest (Romania). The latter are representing applicants in the principal case Baby Sara (European Court of Justice judgement in case No C-490/20) which concerns the recognition of the family rights of LGBTIQ persons. The meeting was also attended by experts from the civil society organizations Accept (Romania) and Hatter (Hungary), which are actively involved in the strategic litigation processes of LGBTIQ human rights, as well as by Arpi Avetisyan, Head of Litigation of ILGA-Europe.

The meeting discussed the lack of inclusive and forward-looking policy solutions in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania and the possibilities of using legal processes to correct the human rights situation that is several decades behind the European average: to contribute to the equality of LGBTIQ persons and the implementation of the principle of non-discrimination in the region.

Experts shared their experiences in strategic litigation in their countries, discussed the progress in the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice in the field of LGBTIQ rights, and prepared a structured guide for a national and regional strategic litigation plan.

The experts were also presented and jointly discussed the strategic case currently initiated by the Tolerant Youth Association and the public institution Ante Litteram, which aims at the legalization of civil unions/partnerships of same-sex couples and marriages, their recognition as families and their non-discriminatory treatment in Lithuania.

The two-day expert session is part of the project JUST EU: equality and justice for LGBTI citizens through strategic litigation (project contract No 879378), supported by the European Commission and implemented by Accept, LGL, Hatter, Deystvie and ILGA-Europe.

Within the framework of this project, LGL aims to mobilize the capacities of human rights experts in strategic litigation initiatives, as well as to increase the awareness among the LGBTIQ community about the prospects of strategic litigation, and to promote the active use of national legal instruments and regional human rights mechanisms.