Lithuanian Bishops object to domestic violence legislation’s inclusion of LGBT rights

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The Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference (LBC) is urging Lithuania’s government not to ratify a convention from the Council of Europe addressing domestic violence. Claiming that it would threaten Lithuanian tradition and lead to schools being forced to promote homosexuality and the transgender identity.

The bishops released a statement on May 9 regarding their concerns; though they state that “combating violence against women and other persons is an eligible and noble aspiration,” they consider Articles 4, 12, and 14 of the convention objectionable. 

Article 4 of the convention, titled “Fundamental rights, equality and non-discrimination”, states in part that “rights… shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, gender, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, state of health, disability, marital status, migrant or refugee status, or other status.” 

At present, Lithuania’s anti-discrimination laws do not include gender identity or sexual orientation as protected classes.

Article 12, “General obligations”, calls for taking “the necessary measures to promote changes in the social and cultural patterns of behaviour of women and men with a view to eradicating prejudices, customs, traditions and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority of women or on stereotyped roles for women and men.”  The LBC claims that “adoption of such provisions” could threaten Lithuanian religious and cultural traditions.

Article 14, “Education”, requires that schools “include teaching material on issues such as equality between women and men, non-stereotyped gender roles, mutual respect, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships, gender-based violence against women and the right to personal integrity, adapted to the evolving capacity of learners, in formal curricula and at all levels of education.”

The LBC’s statement calls that a “particular concern”, as it constitutes “an unfair obligation”, and claims that “non-stereotyped gender roles… can also mean homosexuality and transgenderism.”

Lithuania was criticized by the European Union, which it belongs to, in 2012 for its unclear laws regarding the legality of the promotion of LGBT acceptance. 

Homosexual activity for both males and females has been legal since 1993, but the LGBT community continues to have limited civil rights. 

There are no marriage equality, civil union, or other provisions providing same-sex couples with legal recognition; the first pride parade, in 2010, was met with violent protests despite a heavy police presence.

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