Gay Marriage

Lithuania Joins the EU Regulation on Divorce only after the Exception Concerning Same-Sex Marriage Has Been Introduced

The Lithuanian decision to apply the rules of enhanced cooperation should be confirmed by the European Commission on Wednesday.

According to the Deputy Minister of Justice, this step has been taken by the Lithuanian authorities only after the introduction of public policy exception, which foresees that the procedure will not be applicable in the situations, contravening the national constitutional order or the main principles of the domestic law.

“The Courts will be entitled not to resolve the disputes between same-sex spouses. This situation would contravene the provisions in the Civil Code, which explicitly prohibits marriage between two individuals of the same sex,” – said the Deputy.

Lithuanian is the 15th Member State to join the Regulation. The applicability of the public policy exception in question has been agreed upon by the other Member States as well, which are already participating in the cooperation.

According to the European Commission, the scope of the Regulation guarantees legal certainty for married couples and does not allow optional applicability of domestic laws.

“When people fall in love, national boarders and different citizenships do not matter. However, decisions by national courts on which national laws to apply in case of marriage dissolutions are based on different provisions. International spouses should exactly know which rules are going to be applied in their case. That is what this Regulation is about,” – said the Justice Commissionaire Viviane Reding.

The Council Regulation has been accepted by 14 Member States so far: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. The Regulation came into force in June, 2012.

According the European Commission, the Regulation seeks to protect the more vulnerable spouse in the course of marriage dissolution. International spouses have an opportunity to agree upon, which national law will be applicable in case of marriage dissolution, in advance.

This is the first time in the history, when the Member States have used the mechanism of enhanced cooperation in order to create legally binding rules. This procedure allows for at least 9 Member States to proceed further in common policies, if it is not possible to reach an agreement among the 27 Member States. The other Member States have the right to join in at any chosen moment.

According to the European Commission, Lithuania is the first Member State to declare its intention to join the mechanism of enhanced cooperation after some time for reflections.

There is a need for the constitutional amendment in order to legalize same-sex marriage in Lithuania. The current provision explicitly states that “a marriage is conducted between a man and a woman.”

The “Liberal Movement” (currently holding 10 seats in the Parliament) is the only major political party, which supports the introduction of registered partnerships for same-sex couples.

The previous survey indicated that 70% of the population support registered partnerships for different-sex couples, while only 4% support registered partnerships for same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage is available in 8 States in Europe – Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. In 13 States in Europe same-sex couples can register their relationship through registered partnerships.