Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament is too busy to meet with LGL

The national LGBT* rights organization LGL initiated a meeting with the Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament Seimas and the leader of the Lithuanian Labor Party Loreta Graužinienė on September and November this year. Both times were unsuccessful. The Office of the Lithuanian Speaker of the Parliament claims that Ms. Graužinienė has no time for a meeting with the representatives from LGL. The Executive Director of LGL Vladimir Simonko believes that the politician simply avoids meeting with LGBT* advocates.

“We continue to send invitations, but we receive no response. The positive change in attitudes towards LGBT* people in Europe are plain to see. Hence the reluctance to meet and discuss LGBT* issues is getting awkward. It is time for Lithuanian politicians to show some courage and political will. The Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament claims that she cannot allocate 5 minutes of her time. This clearly indicates that the problems that Lithuanian LGBT* community face are being excluded from the political agenda,” – regrets Mr. Simonko.

There are several important issues to discuss. The national LGBT* rights organization LGL identified 8 draft legislative proposals in the course of the Lithuanian Parliament’s Autumn Session that directly violate LGBT* rights. “LGL invited the Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament to have a conversation about very specific issues that need to be addressed. Our politicians claim that the situation of LGBT* people in Lithuania is satisfactory. On the contrary, our problems are completely invisible in Lithuania.”

Meanwhile the neighboring Baltic countries continue to foster LGBT* rights. Recently Estonia introduced Civil Partnership Law including same-sex couples and Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevičs publicly came out on Twitter. “In this case Lithuania is obviously lagging behind by sending a message that it is perfectly fine to ignore LGBT* rights. The ignorance demonstrated by the Lithuanian politicians somewhat resembles the political climate in Russia and Belarus”, – stressed the Executive Director of LGL.

The Senior Legal Adviser of the Speaker of Lithuanian Parliament Egidijus Rumbutis acknowledged that the speaker has received LGL’s invitations to discuss LGBT* issues. However, the adviser informed that it is impossible to arrange a meeting: “There is absolutely no possibility to interrupt Parliament Speaker’s agenda at the moment. We will notify once an opportunity arises. We have attached the LGL’s letter to the corresponding draft bills. Therefore, the LGL’s invitation is not completely ignored.”

Mr. Rumbutis insisted that the Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament had not explicitly rejected LGL’s invitation. Still, the Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament could not set a specific date for a meeting this year. “We explained nicely that the Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament is extremely busy due to the budget matters, but we did not say ‘no, never’” – argued the Senior Legal Adviser.

On November 12th, 2014 the Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament declared that the Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevičs should have disclosed his sexual orientation prior to the assignment to the post. She argued that if a person went into politics, he had to be honest.

No political leaders have ever invited LGL’s representatives to discuss the issues of the local LGBT* community. Last year due to the collective efforts by LGL and the Lithuanian media LGL’s representatives were invited to the President’s Office. However, they had the chance to meet only with the advisers of the President. The President of the Republic of Lithuania was not present during the meeting. “There was no communication and no discussion. We spoke and they listened. I am not even sure if they heard us “- stated the Executive Director of LGL.

Vladimir Simonko claims that such ignorance is unacceptable. “Our politicians, including the President Dalia Grybauskaitė, are being quite arrogant when asked if the time to implement LGBT* human rights in Lithuania already had come. But then maybe it is not a good time for LGBT* Lithuanians to pay taxes for a country where politicians have no time to address their problems and defend their rights?”- argues the Executive Director of LGL.