Lithuania ignores UN Human Rights Council recommendations on LGBT rights

Submitted by Lithuanian Gay League

Lithuania has responded to recommendations made by various member states of the Human Rights Council at its Universal Periodic Review of Lithuania in October 2011, dismissing the concerns raised about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Lithuania.

According to a statement issued by Lithuania’s Ministry of Justice and approved by the Government, recommendations on the protection of sexual minorities’ rights and elimination of law provisions which discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity have already been implemented, as in Lithuania discrimination on various grounds is prohibited by Constitution and the list of grounds provided is perceived as open, and prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation is specified in the Law on Equal Treatment.

LGL disagrees with the position taken by the Lithuanian Government, drawing attention to the case L v Lithuania, concerning a transsexual’s right to gender reassignment, which Lithuania lost in the European Court of Human Rights in 2007. The ruling obligated Lithuania to pass a law regulating the procedure and conditions of gender reassignment, which Lithuania has subsequently ignored. Further, Lithuanian conservative parliamentarians led by the chairman of the Committee on Health Affairs last March registered a proposal to amend the Civil Code with a prohibition of gender reassignment surgery. Disappointed with the response to the recommendations, LGL urges the Lithuanian Government to engage in dialogue with experts and NGOs regarding gender reassignment regulations.

In response to a recommendation on recognition of family diversity, the Ministry’s statement goes on to say that active discussion on the concept of family is ongoing in the Lithuanian political and legal sphere, but it is not foreseen to equalize the rights of same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Replying to concerns over discriminatory legislation, the statement claims that there are no provisions in the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information which would allow discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation. Amnesty International has repeatedly voiced concern that the law, which classifies as detrimental to children any information which "denigrates family values" or encourages a concept of marriage other than the union of a man and a woman and consequently bans such information from places accessible to children, could be used to restrict freedom of expression of LGBT people and that it is directly discriminatory against people on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGL shares Amnesty International’s concerns over legislative initiatives that are blatantly discriminatory and unlawfully restrict the right to freedom of expression of LGBT people in violation of Lithuania’s obligations under international human rights law. Current legislative initiatives in addition to the proposed ban on gender reassignment surgery include a proposed amendment to the Constitution defining the concept of family as based on a marriage between a man and a woman.

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