VILNIUS – A United Nations’ committee in March urged Lithuania to take urgent action to combat discrimination affecting national minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in the country.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) welcomed the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 2019 recognizing gender identity and/or sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds of discrimination but nonetheless expressed regret that legislation governing same-sex relationships had not yet been adopted in Lithuania.
“While noting the measures taken by the State party including the Constitutional Court ruling of 11 January 2019 …, the Committee regrets the lack of tangible progress in combating the violence, stigma and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” the committee said in its comments published earlier this month.
It also expressed concern that ‘gender identity’ was yet to be recognized in Lithuania’s legislation.
“The Committee also regrets that, in the absence of the recognition of same-sex marriage, there exists no legal institution for those in same-sex relationships,” it said.
According to the document, the committee is concerned “at the steady decline in the population of national minorities notably the Polish, Russian and Belarusian”. In addition, the committee “continues to remain concerned about reports of discrimination and unequal treatment of national minorities and the lack of a legal framework for the protection of the rights of national minorities in the State party”.
The committee welcomed Lithuania’s efforts for the integration of Roma but also warned about the lack of meaningful progress and the persistent stigmatization and social exclusion and discrimination of the Roma.
“The Committee’s insights also mention other national minorities that face difficulties in Lithuania but in particular emphasize the Roma. This group of people is also stressed specifically in relation to access to education and employment, reminding of a particularly high number of Roma children dropping out of school and of numerous problems encountered by adults when looking for a job,” Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson Birute Sabatauskaite said.
“Even though the Law on Equal Opportunities prohibits discrimination on the grounds of nationality, we still hear Roma community’s stories about too disrespectful behavior encountered when trying to find a place in the labor market,” she added.
According to the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, the committee, in its various recommendations, also mentioned on many occasions the importance of guaranteeing the rights of persons with disabilities. The committee also welcomed Lithuania’s efforts to eliminate inequalities between women and men, yet noted that progress in pursuing full equality between women and men was too slow.