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Lithuania could legalise same-sex unions next year, says country’s only out lawmaker

Nick Duffy December 21, 2020
People hold flags and balloons as they take part in the Baltic Pride 2016 in Vilnius, Lithuania.

People hold flags and balloons as they take part in the Baltic Pride 2016 in Vilnius, Lithuania. (Getty/PETRAS MALUKAS)

Lithuania could be on the path to permitting same-sex couples to enter civil unions, the country’s only out lawmaker has suggested.

Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, a member of the progressive Freedom Party, is one of 11 MPs elected to represent the pro-LGBT+ party in the 141-seat Lithuanian Parliament in October.

Speaking to Reuters, the lawmaker confirmed a civil unions bill would go before the chamber next year. He said: “We’re going to submit the bill in the spring session in March.”

The passage of the proposal was a condition for the formation of the current governing coalition, which is comprised of the Freedom Party, the Liberal Movement, and the centre-right Homeland Union.

Lithuania unlikely to legalise equal marriage.

Raskevičius added: “There are some members of [Homeland Union] 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.”

Lithuania currently has no legal recognition for same-sex relationships, and the Lithuanian constitution states that “marriage shall be concluded upon the free mutual consent of a man and a woman”.

The introduction of same-sex marriage would requite a constitutional amendment, which Raskevičius said would likely struggle to gain sufficient support in a referendum in the Catholic nation over the next few years.

People hold flags and balloons as they take part in the Baltic Pride 2016 in Vilnius, Lithuania.
People hold flags and balloons as they take part in the Baltic Pride 2016 in Vilnius, Lithuania. (Getty/PETRAS MALUKAS)

LGBT+ rights still lack popular support.

In 2019, polling in the country for the Eurobarometer found that support for same-sex marriage is among the lowest across the 28 EU states. Support was lower even than in Poland, where 45 per cent agreed with same-sex marriage rights despite a very public anti-LGBT+ onslaught.

The polling found that only 15 per cent of Lithuanians said they would be comfortable witnessing a public display of affection between two men, while 35 per cent agreed that there is nothing wrong with a sexual relationship between two people of the same sex.

However, despite homophobic notions ingrained in the country’s culture, 53 per cent agreed with the general statement that lesbian, gay and bisexual people should have the same rights as heterosexuals.

Earlier this month, an anti-LGBT+ Lithuanian MP was left with some explaining to do when a half-naked man appeared behind him in a Zoom call.

More: Lithuania, Tomas Raskevičius, Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius

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