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Lithuania makes ‘minimal’ progress on LGBTQ rights

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Lithuania has inched up on this year’s ILGA-Europe’s LGBTI rights ranking, but remains among the worst-performing countries in Europe.

According to a “rainbow map” published on Wednesday, Lithuania ranks 35th out of 49 European countries, with a score of 27.61 percent out of a possible 100.

Last year, Lithuania ranked 36th.

Lithuania’s Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson has called the change “minimal” and said it was due to the methodological guidelines on the pre-trial investigation of hate crimes and hate speech, approved by Prosecutor General Nida Grunskienė last year.

They clearly define sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected characteristics of hate crimes.

“Precise, ethical explanations of terms in the document are very important, but it is up to those conducting the pre-trial investigation to take them into account,” Miglė Kolinytė, an adviser at the office, said in a statement.

“This is an important aspect in assessing progress in ensuring the rights of LGBTI+ people, as research shows that LGBTI+ people still avoid reporting violence or hate crimes to law enforcement services for fear of homophobia and transphobia from officers themselves,” she added.

Overall, however, Lithuania has not achieved any substantial progress, Kolinytė said.

“Our message to decision-makers remains the same: it is high time for Lithuania to move faster, starting with the legalisation of [same-sex civil] partnerships,” she said.

The ILGA-Europe ranking shows that Lithuania is relatively good at guaranteeing freedom of assembly and expression for the LGBTI community, but that the state has not taken any steps to introduce any legislation for registered partnership for same-sex couples, to define sexual orientation, sexual characteristics or gender identity as a basis to seek asylum in the country.

The report recommends that Lithuania legislate same-sex civil partnerships, remove remaining barriers to freedom of expression and information about the LGBTI community, and regulate the recognition of gender reassignment in a transparent manner.

Estonia outperformed Lithuania in the ranking, coming in 22nd. Latvia and Poland rank 38th and 42nd respectively.

Malta, Iceland and Belgium top the list, and Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia are at the bottom.


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