VILNIUS – "A public inquisition has formed" in Lithuania where those who think differently are attacked and insulted, President Gitanas Nauseda said on Monday, commenting on growing tensions over whether the country should ratify the so-called Istanbul Convention against gender violence.
"As a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania, I am very disappointed by how this discussion is going," Nauseda told reporters in Kaunas.
"A public inquisition has formed in Lithuania, that is, people who believe that they can say bad things about those who think differently and do so in a peremptory and sometimes disgusting form, and feel they are unpunishable. I don't think we should put up with that," the president said.
"The culture of bullying must be eradicated, little by little, in Lithuania," he added.
The president's office submitted the Istanbul Convention, signed by Lithuania back in 2013, to the Seimas for ratification in 2018, Nauseda noted.
The president would not say whether he personally supports the convention.
The debate over whether the Lithuania should ratify the document has recently heated up on social media as the parliament is expected to discuss the matter in its the upcoming spring session.
Several Roman Catholic schools, priests and others are calling on people to sign petitions against the ratification of the document and against ?the institutionalization of gender-neutral partnerships.
The Social Security and Labor Ministry plans to table an updated bill on protection against domestic violence during the parliament's spring session and says that the ratification of the Istanbul Convention should be considered at the same time.
The convention was submitted to the Seimas for ratification by former President Dalia Grybauskaite, but the process has stalled as politicians have failed to agree on some provisions of the document.
The liberal Freedom Party expects to table a draft law on gender-neutral civil partnerships during the spring session, too.
Currently, Lithuanian laws do not recognize either opposite-sex or same-sex civil partnerships. Several previous attempts by liberal politicians to formalize in law civil partnerships fell through before reaching the stage of adoption in the parliament.
Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church leaders have called on the new government coalition not to equate same-sex partnerships with families.