bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Saturday 18.08.2018 | Name days: Liene, Helēna, Elena, Ellena, Liena
LithuaniaLithuania

ECJ ruling gives gay couples hope for Lithuania, but reality check is harsh

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Lithuania’s human rights non-governmental organisations hope the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Tuesday ruling will, sooner or later, clear the barriers for gays from third countries, married to EU citizens, to get residency in Lithuania, an EU member state.

The Court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the right of residency in any EU member state, including Lithuania, even if it does not recognize gay marriages.

The ruling followed the legal evaluation of the EU legal provisions regarding foreigners’ residency in EU member states. The Court ruled that the term ‘spouse’ within the meaning of the provisions of EU law on freedom of residence for EU citizens and their family members includes spouses of the same sex.

«As far as we know, Lithuania’s Migration Department has so far rejected applications for the reunion of same-sex spouses, based on the fact that Lithuanian laws do not allow same-sex marriages,» Kristina Normantaitė, project manager at the Human Rights Monitoring Institute, said.

«Following the European Court of Justice’s ruling in the Coman case, such a practice should change… The term «spouse» in the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens will have to be interpreted as also including same-sex spouses,» she added.

«We commend the ruling of the European Court of Justice and call on Lithuanian authorities to abide by it, although this is seemingly improbable in Lithuania today,» Arturas Rudomanskis, chairman of Lithuania’s Association of Tolerant Youth, told BNN.

The Ministry of the Interior, controlling activity of the Migration Department, says it wants to get first acquainted with the ECJ ruling before making any political decisions.

«The principal stance of the Ministry is that Lithuania, sooner or later, will have to adjust its legislation to the ECJ ruling. However, the Ministry emphasizes that the ruling has nothing to do with legalizing same-sex partnerships in any form in Lithuania,» Karolis Vaitkevičius, spokesman for the interior minister, told BNN Lithuania. He added: «First of all, we need to get acquainted with the ruling and then take some action.»

The ECJ ruled that Romanian and American male citizens who got married in Brussels in 2010 and decided to move to Romania two years later have the same residency rights as other married couples.

Homophobic remarks and slur is far away from being a rarity in Lithuania. In fact, Lithuania remains as one of the European Union’s most homophobic countries, different surveys show.

A survey issued by the European Commission last year showed that Lithuanians in general are more opposed to giving gay, lesbian and bisexual people the same rights as heterosexual people than the rest of the EU. According to the same survey, only a quarter – 24 per cent- of the Lithuanians support legalization of same-sex marriage in Europe, while the figures for EU as a whole is 61 per cent.

Lithuania has however scored better in a survey on LGBT rights this year but still lags behind many European Union countries.

ILGA-Europe, an association defending rights of sexual minorities, ranked Lithuania 37th out of 49 countries in its annual report. Lithuania inched up from 39th place last year.

ILGA-Europe was assessing equality in different areas on a scale of 0 to 100 per cent, where 0 means significant breaches of human rights, while 100 percent mean absolute equality. The situation in equality of LGBTI people in Latvia has been assessed as 16.1 per cent, which is lower than 17 percent scored last year.

The second lowest assessment was given to Poland (18.2 per cent), followed by Lithuania (20.7 per cent), and Romania (21.1 per cent). Estonia’s assessment has risen by 6 percentage points to 39.3 per cent.

ILGA-Europe has given 0 assessment to Latvia in the category of Hate Crime and Hate Speech. The organization believes Latvia has no policy tackling hate crime and hate speech targeting LGBT people.

Latvia also got low assessment in the category of Family (7.4 per cent), surveying equality of LGBTI people in relation to registering partnerships, adoption and other family related matters.

The highest equality score was recorded in Malta, Belgium, Norway, the UK, Finland and France.

Since the restoration of Lithuania’s independence in 1990/91, emphasis on human rights and minority protection has increased, and Lithuanians have adapted to broader European social, economic and political values. At the same time, in a country where nearly 80 per cent of the people consider themselves catholic, conservative Catholic traditions still influence the way people live their life. As a result, even though Lithuania decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, marriage or registered partnership is still not possible.

«The most significant improvement is the increased visibility of Lithuania’s LGBT community, which in 2004 was non-existent,» says Tomas Raskevi

ius, who is a policy coordinator at the Lithuanian Gay League (LGL), Lithuania’s largest NGO supporting LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights. “Visibility has helped LGBTs accept themselves, and is crucial in developing tolerance and respect amongst the general Lithuanian public,» Tomas adds.

Although homophobia is wide-spread in Lithuania, only rarely it receives attention as a rule. One of the most vivid exceptions from the rule was the spring of 2016, when a brave graduate student (12th grader) at a secondary school in a provincial town of Telšiai in north-western Lithuania posted on her Facebook account a slate of clandestinely taken photos from her class of faith (religion).

In the slides, the teacher likened loathsomely gays to cannibals, serial killers and abhorrent creatures unworthy a living on God’s planet Earth.

The teacher promulgated that nearly all serial killers with the propensity for cannibalism were gay men, that up to 40 per cent of child sexual abusers have homosexual proclivity and that around 90 percent of gay men suffer from fecal incontinence due to practicing of fisting. This is just a couple of the most preposterous allegations against gay people the faith teacher has ostensibly made.

As the posts by Indre Pabijonavičiūtė, the graduate student, went viral, the internet exploded with comments chiding the teacher, Loreta Raudytė, and, for the most part, praising her for speaking out against what many believe is ubiquitous «political correctness» on the issue of homosexuality.

Both the school’s principle and the city mayor as well as the-then the Lithuanian Education minister, were quick to respond, questioning or denouncing the teacher’s rendition of the subject of homosexuality and gay lifestyle. However, the homophobic teacher was not punished.

The underlying issue of what may seem a single case of homophobia in Lithuanian hinterland is far more acute – wide-spread homophobia and absence of sexual education – one proper to the modern age – at schools.

«Indeed, being gay in Lithuania is not tantamount to being gay in a third world country, yet many homosexuals, especially those who do not hide it or are effeminate, are subject to verbal and physical abuse, particularly in the sticks. Indre did admit to us that she had been warned of «legal consequences» from a local judge if she continues speaking about the teacher,» Rudomanskis told.

Until recently, two sexual education programmes – one on Preparing for Family and the other on Health Nurturing – were part of the school curricula, but they were optional, meaning the schools could choose whether to teach them or not.

Besides, they were all mainly about chastity, not about providing health tips of sexual life and acquainting the schoolchildren with non-traditional sexual orientations.

Aušrinė Pavilionienė, former MP and a staunch LGBT rights supporter, believes that no turnaround on the issue of sexual education and homophobia can be expected in Lithuania.

«Unfortunately, our legislation, and, specifically, the Ministry of Education, is teeming with conservatives and bureaucrats who reflect the views of the dogmatic Lithuanian Catholic Church,» the activist excoriated the Church and the Lithuanian authorities.

Rudomanskis, of the TJA, says that in improving the situation of local LGBT community, Lithuania first needs to remove the discriminatory provisions in the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information.

«It is preposterous that the law deems any information about homosexuality and gays detrimental to youth…Unless it gets changes, it makes no sense to speak of a better situation,» the TJA leader underscored.


Leave a reply

Eurostat: Latvia had inflation rate higher than average in EU and Eurozone

In July, Latvia’s inflation rate was higher than the average in Europe and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat.

Presence of Latvian milk reduces, whereas presence of imported milk increases in Latvia

The proportion of milk produced in Latvia is starting to lose to imported milk, as concluded by Central Union of Latvian Dairy Farmers chairman Jānis Šolks.

Seven previously convicted candidates crossed from Saeima election lists

On Friday, 17 August, the Central Election Commission decided to cross out seven previously convicted deputy candidates. The decision regarding one more candidate has been postponed until the next meeting, as confirmed by the commission.

Aspiring prosecutors «drop out» in tests – half of contenders fail second stage of tests

Approximately half of aspiring prosecutor candidates has failed the second portion of tests for general and judicial knowledge.

Riga International Airport concludes first half-year with turnover increase of 13%

Riga International Airport concluded the first half-year of 2018 with turnover increase of 13% when compared to the same period of 2017, according to the airport’s unaudited and shortened account for the six-month period before 30 June 2018.

New tender announced for post of SRS director; first requirement – spotless reputation

Latvia’s State Chancellery has announced an open personnel selection process for the post of director of State Revenue Service. Application submission process will last until 14 September.

CEC to decide on four candidates’ possible relation to KGB

Latvia’s Central Election Commission has received results of investigations of all 13th Saeima election candidates from Interior Affairs Ministry’s Information Centre and Latvian Centre for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism.

Concord will have to include bread distribution costs in kebab café in its pre-election expenditures

Political party Concord will have to include in its 13th Saeima pre-election campaign expenditures the money spent by one of its candidates on distributing bread to pensioners free of charge in a kebab café in Bolderāja, as reported by TV3 news.

Weekends expected to be warm and at times hot in Latvia

On Friday, 17 August, the sky will partially cloudy again in Latvia, but no major precipitation is expected. Fog may form is certain regions at night thanks to slow wind speed. Maximum air temperature is expected to be around +22° C… +26° C. Night-time air temperature will stay at +11° C… +16° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Latvia’s State Audit requests additional funding to invest in workers

State Audit has requested additional funds in next year’s budget to invest in employees, as head of the institution Elita Krūmiņa mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Nearly half of children born in Latvia in 2017 were delivered by mothers with higher education

20,828 children were born in Latvia in 2017. Almost half of them were born to mothers having higher education. Out of the total number of newborn children mothers, 7,229 or 34.7 % had acquired upper secondary general or vocational education and 2,775 or 13.3 % had basic education or lower.

«Steel Magnolia» named Lithuania's most influential politician for fourth consecutive year

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, dubbed as «Steel Magnolia» by foreign press, remains the most influential politician in the country for the fourth consecutive year. In two separate polls, one by the popular ratings magazine Reitingai and the other by pollster Spinter Tyrimai, she appeared on top, being followed by Saulius Skvernelis, Prime Minister, Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), Valdas Adamkus, ex-president, and Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania's first post-independence leader.

Ex-director: Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before

In the years to come Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before, says the soon ex-director of the museum Imants Lancmanis, who intends to retire at the end of this year.

Star Rating determines the best schools in Latvia

According to the 2018 Star Rating, Riga State Gymnasium No.1 remains in the lead among Latvia’s schools. Daugavpils Russian Secondary School – Lyceum is second, and Riga State Gymnasium No.2 is third.

ABLV Bank assets worth EUR 21.052 million were recovered in July

Liquidators of ABLV Bank have recovered assets worth EUR 21.052 million in July. This includes EUR 11.602 million recovered from issued loans, EUR 7.644 million from recovered/sold securities, EUR 1,792 million from loans provided to credit institutions, and EUR 14,000 from sales of real estate and other types of property, according to the account published in Latvian Herald.

Concerns over Turkish crisis cause world stock market decline

Stock prices around the world took a massive dive on Wednesday, 15 August, as concerns over Turkish crisis’ possible influence and investors’ attempts to get rid of risky assets surfaced again.

Election commission receives word some candidates’ possible non-compliance with the law

Latvia’s Central Election Commission has received information regarding possible non-compliance of multiple deputy candidates with requirements of the Saeima Election Law, says CEC chairman Arnis Cimdars.

African swine fever found in domestic pigs in Saldus; inspectors investigate illness in Unguri

African swine fever has been found in domestic pigs in Saldus Country’s Zaņa Parish. The infection was found in four domestic pigs. It cannot be excluded that ASF may have entered SIA Druvas Unguri farm’s pig enclosure along with sawdust or cars, as reported by Food and Veterinary Service Public Relations Office manager Ilze Meistere.

Lithuania lays symbolic rail on restored Mažeiķi–Reņģe railway line

Lithuania’s Lietuvos geležinkeliai railway company’s director general Mantas Bartuška and Polish oil concern Orlen manager Daniel Obatjek laid a symbolic rail on the restored railway route connecting Orlen Lithuania owned Mažeiķi oil processing plant in Lithuania and Reņģi in Latvia this Tuesday, 14 August.

Unemployment level in Latvia down to 7.7% in Q2 2018

In Q2 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.7 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, while over the year it dropped by 1.2 percentage points.

Saeima approves stricter requirements for fast loans

On Tuesday, 14 August, Saeima’s Economic Committee supported in the second reading amendments to the Consumer Rights Protection Law. The legislative draft states that total loan costs that exceed 0.07% a day from the loan amount are unacceptable and non-compliant with good practice, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Noord Natie develops a new business niche – attracts cruise ships for Ventspils

The first of the cruise ships attracted from SIA Noord Natie Ventspils Terminals will arrive at Ventspils port this week. NNVT stresses that development of cruise business as a new product will help develop tourism in the city and region, as well as provide a contribution to economic development and raise recognition of NNVT terminal and the city.

Culture Ministry announces open contest for post of director of Rundale Castle Museum

Latvia’s Culture Ministry invites contenders to apply for participation in an open contest for the post of director of Rundale Castle Museum. Contenders can submit their applications before 14 September.

Lithuania’s Central Bank to assess information about Latvian VIA SMS Group

Lithuania’s Central Bank has promised to assess information regarding Latvian VIA SMS Group working in the country. This decision is a reaction to the statement made by Seimas National Security and Defence Committee member Arvydas Anušauskas that people associated with former Parex Banka owners work in that company.

Small wineries in Latvia will be allowed to use only local products

Members of Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee supported amendments to the Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law, stating that small breweries will be allowed to use products grown only in Latvia.

Newest comments