Recognition of same-sex unions in Lithuania

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Legal status of same-sex unions
Marriage
Performed
Recognized

* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

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Lithuania does not recognise same-sex marriages or civil partnerships. A bill to grant unmarried couples (including same-sex couples) some limited rights is pending in the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas).

Partnerships[edit]

In 2011, the Constitutional Court of Lithuania ruled that family does not derive exclusively from marriage, opening the possibility for partnerships or other forms of legal recognition to include same-sex couples.[1]

Of the 8 candidates running in the 2019 presidential election, 5 expressed support for registered partnerships, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Arvydas Juozaitis, Valentinas Mazuronis, Ingrida Šimonytė and winner Gitanas Nausėda. The three remaining expressed support for limited rights (such as inheritance, common property, etc.), while also stating their opposition to same-sex marriage, Mindaugas Puidokas, Saulius Skvernelis and Naglis Puteikis.[1]

Civil partnerships[edit]

On 25 March 2015, 9 members of the Seimas (Parliament) from the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Movement introduced a civil partnership bill.[2][3] Prime Minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party Algirdas Butkevičius expressed his opposition to the bill.[4] On 6 May 2015, the Committee on Legal Affairs announced that they could find no constitutional barriers to same-sex civil partnerships in the Baltic state.[5] The bill was not voted upon and died at the end of Parliament's term in November 2016. A similar bill was introduced by deputies from the Liberal Movement on 30 May 2017.[6] The bill was rejected in its first reading in a 29-59 vote with 20 abstentions, on 15 June 2017.[7][8]

Cohabitation agreements[edit]

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe¹
  Marriage
  Civil union
  Limited domestic recognition (cohabitation)
  Limited foreign recognition (residency rights)
  Unrecognized
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
¹ May include recent laws or court decisions that have not yet entered into effect.

In 2017, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union and the Homeland Union proposed a bill to establish "cohabitation agreements" (Lithuanian: susitarimo dėl bendro gyvenimo) as an alternative to civil partnerships. The proposed legislation would guarantee cohabitants hospital visitation rights and the right to inherit a late partner's property. Povilas Urbšys, one of the authors of the proposal said: "Our registered project will effectively contribute to legal clarity, regulate property rights and some property unrelated relations between people living together and will also help to avoid negative consequences when the cohabitation is dissolved."[9] The proposal, which was criticised by LGBT groups, explicitly stipulates that the cohabitants entering the agreement do not intend to create family relations. The proposal was preliminarily approved by the Seimas with 46 votes for, 17 votes against and 6 abstentions on 31 May 2017 and sent to further consideration.[10][11] On 25 October 2017, the Lithuanian Government announced its support for the bill.[12]

On 14 February 2018, appearing at an LGBT rally in Vilnius, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis called on the Seimas to recognise same-sex partnerships.[13]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Same-sex marriages are not legal in Lithuania, with the Civil Code defining marriage as a voluntary agreement between a man and a woman. Moreover, there is an additional article in the Civil Code that explicitly bans same-sex marriages. Nevertheless, a drive to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriages was reportedly under way in December 2005 by a conservative member of the Parliament, who had started collecting signatures for such an amendment.[14] Julius Sabatauskas, chairman of the Parliament's Legal Committee, however, denounced the plan and said it was unneeded. Some MPs say Lithuania's Constitution already bans same-sex marriage. Article 38 of the Constitution states: "Marriage shall be concluded upon the free mutual consent of man and woman."[a] The actual effect of this statement is unknown and it has yet to be challenged in court.

2018 European Court of Justice ruling[edit]

On 5 June 2018, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that European Union member states (including Lithuania) must recognise the freedom of movement and residency rights of same-sex spouses, provided one partner is an EU citizen.[17][18][19] The Court ruled that EU member states may choose whether or not to allow same-sex marriage, but they cannot obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen and their spouse. Furthermore, the Court ruled that the term "spouse" is gender-neutral, and that it does not necessarily imply a person of the opposite sex.[20][21]

On 11 January 2019, the Supreme Court, in compliance with the ECJ ruling, ruled that the Lithuanian state must grant residency rights to the same-sex partners of European Union citizens.[22][23]

Public opinion[edit]

According to the 2015 Eurobarometer, 24% of Lithuanians supported same-sex marriage, the fourth lowest among EU member states alongside Slovakia. EU-wide support was 61%.[24]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In Lithuanian: Santuoka sudaroma laisvu vyro ir moters sutarimu.[15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Lithuanian presidental candidcates on legalising civil partnership". lrt.lt. 23 April 2019.
  2. ^ 9 MPs register bill on same-sex partnership
  3. ^ Civilinio kodekso 3.1, 3.3, 3.16, 3.140, 3.150, 3.194, 3.229, 3.230, 3.231, 3.234, 3.235 straipsnių ir III knygos III dalies ir VI skyriaus pavadinimų pakeitimo, Kodekso papildymo 3.230(1) ir 3.230(2) straipsniais, bei 3.232 ir 3.233 straipsnių pripažinimo netekusiais galios
  4. ^ PM against legalisation of same-sex partnerships
  5. ^ Lithuanian parliament committee: ‘constitution no barrier to gay civil partnerships’
  6. ^ Civilinio kodekso 2.18, 2.19, 3.3, 3.16, 3.140, 3.141, 3.143, 3.146, 3.147, 3.150, 3.155 straipsnių, Kodekso Trečiosios knygos VI dalies XV skyriaus ir 5.13, 6.588, 6.590, 6.744 straipsnių pakeitimo įstatymo projektas
  7. ^ (in Lithuanian) Seime žlugo bandymas įteisinti vyro ir moters bei homoseksualų partnerystę
  8. ^ Lithuania tries, but fails to recognize same-sex couples
  9. ^ Lithuanian Peasant and Green Party Propose “Cohabitation Agreements” Instead of Partnerships
  10. ^ Seimas Approves the Proposal on “Cohabitation Agreements” as Alternative to Partnership Law
  11. ^ (in Lithuanian) Civilinio kodekso 6.589, 6.969, 6.971, 6.973, 6.978 straipsnių pakeitimo įstatymo projektas
  12. ^ (in Lithuanian) DĖL LIETUVOS RESPUBLIKOS CIVILINIO KODEKSO 6.589, 6.969, 6.971, 6.973, 6.978 STRAIPSNIŲ PAKEITIMO ĮSTATYMO PROJEKTO NR. XIIIP-750 IR LIETUVOS RESPUBLIKOS PAVELDIMO TURTO MOKESČIO ĮSTATYMO NR. IX-1239 7 STRAIPSNIO PAKEITIMO ĮSTATYMO PROJEKTO NR. XIIIP-751
  13. ^ Lithuanian Prime Minister Wants Same-Sex Partnerships Law
  14. ^ "Lithuania could follow in Latvia’s footsteps on banning gay marriage" The Baltic Times, December 24, 2005
  15. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania" (PDF). wipo.int.
  16. ^ "Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucija". lrs.lt (in Lithuanian).
  17. ^ EU states must recognize foreign same-sex marriages: court, Reuters, June 5, 2018
  18. ^ Rights for same-sex married couples to move around the EU confirmed in landmark ruling, Yahoo News, June 6, 2018
  19. ^ Alina Tryfonidou (June 7, 2018). "Rights for same-sex married couples to move around the EU confirmed in landmark ruling". The Conversation.
  20. ^ "Same-sex spouses have equal residency rights". BBC News. June 6, 2018.
  21. ^ JUDGMENT OF THE COURT (Grand Chamber) 5 June 2018
  22. ^ Lithuania court hands down landmark ruling about gay couples. Pink News, 11 January 2019
  23. ^ Lithuanian Constitutional Court rules same-sex spouses be granted residence permits. Emerging Europe, 14 January 2019
  24. ^ DISCRIMINATION IN THE EU IN 2015