Lithuanian court rejects request to register same-sex marriage

  • 2023-07-31
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – A Vilnius court on Friday rejected a request to oblige the Vilnius City Civil Registry Office to register a same-sex marriage and enter the marriage contract in the Register of Marriage Contracts.

The case was heard closed doors, and the Vilnius District Court only published the ruling stating that the application on the registration of the civil status act was rejected. The decision can still be appealed with the Vilnius Regional Court., which reported on the ruling, said the court stated that the concept of marriage as stated in Article 38 of the Constitution "is clear and specific, and does not give rise to any presumption that it can be interpreted as conferring the right to marry irrespective of the sex of the persons concerned".

The Constitution provides that "marriage shall be concluded upon the free mutual consent of man and woman".

"Thus, according to the official constitutional jurisprudence, the constitutional concept of marriage (as opposed to the constitutional concept of family) is not gender-neutral, and marriage is only possible between a man and woman," the court's ruling reads.

Martynas Norbutas, one of the applicants, said in a statement that he was disappointed with the ruling because Lithuania "has not fulfilled its obligation to protect homosexual families". 

"It's disappointing that this court did not consider it important to change the situation," he said.

Aivaras Zilinskas, the lawyer for the applicants, says the ruling will be appealed.

This case is one of three cases in which three couples are seeking the registration of a civil partnership, the registration of a marriage that took place abroad in the country's civil registry, and the recognition and registration of a same-sex marriage in Lithuania.

In April, the Vilnius City District Court already rejected the request to register the same-sex partnership in the register of civil status acts, stating that there's no legal act that could be used to satisfy the applicants' request, apart from the Law on Partnerships.

The court then pointed out that although the Constitutional Court recognizes that the concept of family is gender neutral, it does not create new norms as it must be done by the parliament.