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Lithuania

Gay Rights and Life in Lithuania

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A Vilnius, Lithuania street at dusk

A Vilnius, Lithuania street at dusk.

© Peter Adams/Getty
In 1990 Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, but Moscow did not recognize this proclamation until September of 1991. Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalized in Lithuania in 1993 and the age of consent was equalized at 14 years old to fulfill European Union accession criteria against discrimination.

Same-Sex Marriage
Same-sex marriage has been banned in the majority Catholic state since 1992. Article 38 of the Lithuanian Constitution states "Marriage shall be concluded upon the free mutual consent of a man and a woman." Article 3.12 of the country's Civil Code also states that "Marriage shall be concluded with a person of the opposite sex only." In 2008, same-sex couples were excluded from the National Conception of Family Policy which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

Discrimination Laws
In 2005, despite resistance in the Seimas (Lithuania's parliament), the Law on Equal Treatment was passed prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the areas of employment, education and access to goods and services.

Gender Identity/Expression
According to Article 2.27 of Lithuania's Civil Code, any non-married person is allowed to change their legal gender.

Adoption
In Lithuania, only married couples are allowed to adopt children, subsequently same-sex couples are prohibited from adopting. Single parents can adopt at a social worker's discretion, but institutional barriers prevent single LGBT parents from adopting.

Military
Gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military.

Gay Pride
Under threats of violence, Vilnius, Lithuania's pride parade was banned. The ruling was overturned by a appeals court on April 7, 2010, allowing the five-day festival to commence.

Lithuania pride carried on as planned with hundreds of flag-totting participants. The march did have a few snags, as expected. The BBC reports that police fired tear gas and arrested at least 12 people who threw stones and fireworks at marchers. Luckily, no one was reported injured.
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