Democracy & Justice

Lithuania's Law on Civil Partnerships Could Be Ready for Significant Change

Lithuania, one of only six EU member states that does not recognize civil partnerships, intends to take up debate this autumn on a law that would help address a number of practical problems faced by unmarried couples.

by Human Rights Monitoring Institute

Together with Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, Lithuania is one of the six European Union countries that has not yet legalized civil partnerships between members of the same sex or different sexes. But now a draft Law on Partnerships will be presented to Parliament for consideration during this year's autumn session.

As far back as 2001 Lithuania's civil code included mention of civil partnerships, with implementation planned by 2002. However, this issue remains unresolved, and 20 years later, Lithuania still has no law on cohabitation outside of marriage.

After last year's parliamentary elections, the centre-right formed a ruling coalition and put the legal regulation of civil partnerships back onto the political agenda. A working version of the draft Law on Partnerships surfaced in the public space in early May, but this version is not final and the draft still needs to be approved.

The draft available to the public would help address a number of practical problems faced by unmarried couples. For example, the law would allow one partner to take another’s last name, or for partners to have double-barreled last names. It would also cover property issues, allowing partners to determine their property rights when concluding contracts, and would provide other practical options that have only been available to married couples until now.

Unfortunately, the first draft is still a compromise. For example, it does not directly define partners in a partnership as a “family” and does not touch child care, adoption, and other socially sensitive issues. Even without these provisions, the draft provoked outrage from many politicians and members of the general public.

The final draft Law on Partnerships should be submitted to Parliament this session, with deliberations planned for the autumn.

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