“I cannot simply show my identity card without facing difficult situations. It is very challenging and I do not believe that it should be that way.“
Oskaras, 18 years old, transgender man
To the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania,
To the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania,
To the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania,
REGARDING ABSENCE OF LEGAL GENDER RECOGNITION PROCEDURE IN LITHUANIA
We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, wish to express our concern regarding the absence of a procedure for implementing the right to recognition of gender identity for transgender individuals in Lithuania. At the moment transgender individuals cannot change their identity documents, which causes a lot of difficulties while traveling, looking for a job or communicating with national authorities. Identity document can be changed only upon performing a mandatory gender reassignment surgery, which is not possible in Lithuania. This situation undermines the international obligations by the Republic of Lithuania and violates the right to privacy of its transgender individuals.
Transgender individuals remain to be one of the most socially vulnerable and discriminated social groups in our country. According to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), as many as 60 % of transgender individuals in Lithuania have experienced physical or sexual violence and harassment in the course of the last five years. The irresponsiveness by the public authorities, whose main purpose is to serve all individuals equally, to the specific needs of the local transgender community highly contributes to this alarming situation.
Despite the fact that Article 2.27 of the current edition of the Civil Code, which came into force in 2001, foresees that an “unmarried person of full legal age has the right to changes one’s gender medically”, the enabling legislation on conditions and procedure of gender reassignment still has to be adopted. In 2007 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has delivered judgement in the case L. v. Lithuania. The Strasbourg court mandated that the Lithuanian Government has to terminate the continuing violation of the Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by regulating conditions and procedure of gender reassignment. This decision by the ECtHR has not been implemented yet.
On November 9th, 2015 the Ministry of Justice submitted to the Government a legislative amendment to the Civil Code, establishing that legal gender recognition will be provided only after the accomplishment of “surgical correction of secondary sex characteristics”. However, the submitted amendment does not foresee a legal obligation of providing health care services for transgender individuals. To put it in other words, the Republic of Lithuania seeks to impose requirements, which are impossible to fulfil – in order to obtain legal gender recognition, one has to undergo the full gender reassignment treatment, despite the fact that it is not possible to accomplish it in Lithuania at the moment.
The proposed regulation also ignores the needs of transgender individuals, who do not wish and/or cannot receive gender reassignment treatment, but still seek to obtain legal gender recognition. That kind of recognition is essential in seeking successful integration in the economic and social life of the country. At the moment seventeen European countries – including Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark – provide for the possibility of legal gender recognition without the compulsory requirement of gender reassignment surgery. The analogous position was articulated by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its Resolution 2048 (2015). The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe recommended in the Human Rights and Gender identity Issue paper of 2009 that sterilisation and other compulsory medical treatment as a necessary legal requirement to recognise a person’s gender identity in laws regulating the process for name and sex change should be abolished. He also recommended that gender reassignment procedures, such as hormone treatment, surgery and psychological support should be made accessible for transgender persons.
In relation to the fact that currently the Lithuanian Government is proposing the procedure, which does not effectively implement the human rights standards for transgender individuals,
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, DEMAND:
- To create QUICK, TRANSPARENT and ACCESSIBLE legal gender recognition procedure in Lithuania, encompassing not only the possibility of changing one’s identity documents, but also the provision of appropriate health care services tailored to the specific needs of transgender individuals.
- Based on good practices in foreign jurisdictions, to create the possibility of changing one’s identity documents WITHOUT compulsory gender reassignment surgery or any other kind of forced medical treatment.
We also demand that the representatives of the public authorities unequivocally condemn any instances of discrimination on grounds of gender identity and/or gender expression and ensure that transgender citizens of the Republic of Lithuania have the capacity to live in dignity without discrimination, harassment and violence.
Authors of the petition:
National LGBT* Rights Organization LGL
Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI)