Current Lithuanian government has a very important question in its 2021 agenda – same-sex partnership or, in other words, civil union. The same-sex partnership remains one of the most discussed topics which often causes polarization of society. Unlike most EU countries, Lithuania still does not have a civil partnership law in its books. In 2017, a legislation was drafted to allow civil unions for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, but it was rejected. The legislation is mostly opposed by conservative people and representatives of the church. I believe that the same-sex partnership should be legalized in Lithuania so as to stop discrimination against homosexual couples, enable them to properly manage their finances and sort out other daily life issues.
The current situation regarding the aforementioned law may be seen as denigrating and disrespectful to the whole LBTQ+ community living in Lithuania. A survey carried out by The Lithuanian Chamber of Notaries in 2019 suggests that 13 percent are in favour of the legalization of same-sex partnership, 11 percent view it satisfactorily, and 66 percent are against it.1 This survey, along with other polls, shows an important issue of discrimination and deep-rooted intolerance compared to the Western world. The legalization of civil union would mean a huge step in the development of Lithuania. At the moment, same-sex couples feel discriminated because their relationships cannot be legally recognized, whereas traditional couples have no problems with that. Furthermore, a study carried out in the US from 1999 to 2015 revealed that the legalization of the same-sex marriage, which is similar to the same-sex partnership, is closely linked to the reduction of attempted suicide rates among children.2 Therefore, the establishment of civil unions would put an end to discrimination against same-sex couples and lead the country into the modern world.
It is also important to enable same-sex couples to manage their finances in a civilized way. In order to be able to manage inheritance, common property and other financial questions, couples have to be officially married. However, Lithuania’s Constitution has a provision that marriage can be only between a man and a woman. Furthermore, the Civil Code contains an extra clause that expressly prohibits same-sex marriages. Therefore, in order for same-sex couples to have the same rights, it would be necessary to change the Constitution. However, that would not be needed in the case of civil union. If the same-sex partnership were legalized, couples would be able to inherit their partner’s property without issues or simply get a loan from a bank. Now, for instance, such couples even face troubles when opening joint bank accounts or using payment cards. Although multiple banks support same-sex couples and all the LGBTQ+ community, they are helpless against the law.
Legalisation of same-sex partnerships would mean that homosexual couples could sort out daily life issues which do not seem troubling to traditional couples. Nowadays, one of the most common examples of such issues is travelling during the worldwide pandemic. In some EU countries, civil unions and registered partnerships are considered equivalent or comparable to marriage; therefore, those people can travel to their partners who are staying in different countries for certain reasons. Meanwhile, Lithuania does not provide such an opportunity to its citizens and such couples remain separated for an unlimited time. Furthermore, in the case of moving to another country which does not recognize registered partnerships, like Lithuania, same-sex couples do not get the same rights for immigration as traditional married couples do. If one of the partners settles in that country, another partner will not be entitled to come with him/her and their partnership will be considered as a duly attested long-term relationship. In that case, the entrance and obtainment of residency may cause difficulties. Another frequently faced issue of same-sex couples are hospital visitations. If one of the partners falls sick, there is a big chance that another partner will not be able to visit him/her or obtain information about his/her situation and medical history. That happens every day throughout the country and something has to be done in order to avoid such situations.
The same-sex partnerships will be discussed among people for a long time. However, actions should be taken now. Homosexual couples face numerous bureaucratic problems only because of their sexual orientation and that may be called legal discrimination. The topic often divides the country into two opposing sides, one of which endorses registered partnerships and the other considers it wrong and something which is against human nature. I strongly believe that Lithuania is on the right track and is ready for a change. People need to be educated and learn that each of us deserve equal rights, regardless of our sexual orientation or other features. With the current government, Lithuania is one step closer to legalizing same-sex partnerships which symbolizes a great change to our nation as a whole.