Lithuania to Approve Civil Unions in 2021?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday December 21, 2020

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Stock image  (Source:Getty Images)

The former Eastern Bloc country Lithuania, like many other ex-Soviet nations, outlaws marriage equality. But there's a spark of light for same-sex Lithuanian families in a civil unions bill that might pass next year, Reuters reports.

Though the Lithuanian constitution puts marriage equality out of reach for gay and lesbian couples, Tomas Raskevicius - "the country's only openly LGBT+ lawmaker," Reuters notes - told the news outlet that he and other pro-equality lawmakers are planning to submit the bill" allowing civil unions "in the spring session in March."

Raskevicius went on to say, "There are some members of the (majority Homeland Union party) 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," Reuters reported.

Raskevicius belongs to a new political party, the Freedom Party. The Liberal Party also supports the proposed legislation; Reuters reports that "The bill's introduction within the current parliamentary term was a condition of the opposition Liberal Party for joining the ruling coalition."

Lithuania is majority Catholic, Reuters noted. In that way, the nation is similar to Poland, which is notoriously - and increasingly - anti-LGBTQ. Also like other former Soviet nations, Lithuania has laws on the books that claim to "protect" children by banning any discussion of LGBTQ people with minors. Gays and lesbians are also denied adoption rights, Reuters noted.

But whereas Poland has cracked down on non-heterosexuals in recent years, equality advocates in Lithuania believe there is a path toward progress there. One sign of progress is the 31-year-old Raskevicius having been elected; the lawmaker was "on the campaign trail in full drag" before winning his election this year.

Raskevicius took note of the country's social and political antipathy toward sexual minorities, saying, "We get into this vicious circle because LGBT people don't have the chance to come out and then society doesn't have the chance to meet them in real life, and then they hold certain negative stereotypes about this community."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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