A gay lawmaker in Lithuania says that the Baltic country is gearing up to legalise same-sex civil partnership next year.
Same-sex couples are not recognised in the Baltic state after a proposal to give legal status to all couples irrespective of gender was rejected in parliament in 2018.
This is now set to change as the only openly LGBTQ+ lawmaker in Lithuania, Tomas Raskevicius, said he is confident that civil partnership for same-sex couples will become law during the current Government’s term.
Raskevicius represents the newly formed Freedom Party and was elected this year after appearing on the campaign trail in drag.
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The introduction of a registered same-sex partnerships bill was a condition of the opposition Liberal Party for joining the ruling coalition.
“We’re going to submit the bill in the spring session in March,” Raskevicius told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“There are some members of the (majority Homeland Union party) who have already declared they are not going to vote for it, so we’re going to look for some additional votes from the opposition, but I think we should be fine,” Raskevicius said.
Lithuania has been a member of the European Union since 2004 but has remained a mostly conservative country with 75% of the population identifying as Roman Catholic.
While gay sex has been legal since 1993, LGBTQ+ people in Lithuania still lack many rights being unable to adopt. A law similar to Russia’s gay propaganda bill still remains on the statute books preventing the discussion of homosexuality with minors.
The ‘Protection of Minors’ bill is currently facing examination by the European Court of Human Rights but Raskevicius said it was his “principal position … to get that legislation lifted” before a ruling is made by the court.
While workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has been illegal since 2003, the 2014 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report found that 71% of LGBTQ+ people living in Lithuania feel uncomfortable disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“We get into this vicious circle because LGBT people don’t have the chance to come out and then society doesn’t have the chance to meet them in real life, and then they hold certain negative stereotypes about this community,” Raskevicius said.
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Raskevicius who serves as chairperson of parliament’s human rights committer said that while he is confident same-sex civil partnerships will be legalised in Lithuania next year, full same-sex marriage could be up to a decade away.
Lithuania’s constitution states that marriage is between a man and a woman and gathering support to change this would be a long process.
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