Restrictions to LGBT Rights on Parliament’s Agenda

On 20 March 2012 the Lithuanian Parliament adopted its spring agenda, preparing to debate on three legislative amendments openly violating LGBT rights as well as the international commitments to uphold freedom of expression and to fight discrimination.

The first amendment submitted by Petras Gražulis and accepted by the parliamentarians for consideration is a new Article 214(30) in the Administrative Code entitled “Protection of constitutional moral values”. It states that “the public denigration of constitutional moral values and the principles of family stipulated in the Constitution and the organization of events contradicting social morality” should be a subject to a penalty from 1000 to 3000 LTL.

If the actions mentioned above are committed repeatedly, the fine amounts to 3000 – 6000 LTL (870 – 1740 EUR). The proposal is a new version of the amendments submitted by Mr. Gražulis repetitively and aiming at criminalization of a very wide variety of actions and activities e.g. campaigning on human rights issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, providing sexual health information to LGBT individuals, organization of LGBT film festivals, Pride events etc.

The second proposal submitted by Antanas Matulas, Vida Marija Cigriejiene and Arimantas Dumcius is an amendment to the Civil Code aiming at the prohibition of gender reassignment surgery. At present, the Civil Code provides that an unmarried adult is entitled to undergo gender reassignment surgery if it is possible medically, while the conditions and procedure of gender reassignment are set by legislation.

However, no such legislation has been passed. In 2007 Lithuania lost a case in the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right of a transsexual person to gender reassignment. The MPs who submitted the controversial legislative initiative stated that the amendment would protect Lithuania from any claims at the ECHR in the future.

Also on the agenda will be a draft amendment to the Constitution accepted by Parliament in December, stating that “the family is created by a free marriage agreement between a man and woman”. All amendments to the Constitution must be considered and approved by Parliament twice, with a three month break between each vote. The proposal will be adopted if 94 members of parliament vote in favour of the amendment at each vote session.

Currently Article 38 of the Lithuanian Constitution states that family is the substance of society and the State, but there is no direct reference that family is created only through marriage.

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