Partnership Act – Opportunity for Same-Sex Couples in Lithuania to Feel like Fully Fledged Members of Society

The Lithuanian Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs has decided that the Partnership Act does not violate the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. However, while members of Parliament debate the legality of this act, those who are not yet able to legally formalize their relationships continue to experience financial losses and feel degraded by society.

Leader of the national LGBT* rights organization LGL, Vladimir Simonko, has lived with his partner for over two decades. They both say that they would be among the first to legalize their partnership, if only the Lithuanian government would give them the opportunity to do so. There are more problems with the lack of legal partnership than one might expect.

“My partner ended up in the hospital, and I knew nothing about his condition; I knew nothing about what they were doing to him, about his operation. They told me nothing. I felt very helpless because the man for whom I’m responsible for a lifetime—I don’t exist as this man’s partner in the eyes of the state,” explains Mr. Simonko to Lithuanian TV channel “TV3”.

The Executive Director of LGL cites even more problems. For example, although the couple has lived together for decades, in the event of one of their deaths, their accumulated assets would be given to the relatives of the deceased. It is not clear how they should classify themselves on forms provided by state institutions, which only allow people to list themselves as married or unmarried. According to Mr. Simonko, the lack of legal partnership is also financially detrimental to the state; people must go abroad to gain partnership and often end up staying in these countries as taxpayers. LGL’s leader states that at least a few dozen couples he knows have legalized their partnerships abroad, and that while he cannot say exactly how many more couples in Lithuania would want such partnerships, there are undoubtedly many.

The Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania allows for civil partnership but lacks the amendments necessary to validate it. On the 6th of May, 2015 the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs decided that the Partnership Act does not violate the Constitution. However, only four out of seven committee members voted in favor of this ruling, and those who voted against it categorically maintain that partnership may only exist between a man and a woman.