A civil union cannot be considered a marriage. Such a conclusion of the Law and Law and Order Committee was presented by its chairman, Stasys Šedbaras, after active discussions with human rights representatives.
In the committee vote, six committee members voted “for” the return of the Law on Civil Union to the Seimas, one was “against”, two abstained.
“Thus, the bill and the committee’s conclusions have been approved,” said committee chairman Stasys Šedbaras.
Member of the Freedom faction Aušrinė Armonaitė, representatives of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) Irena Haase, Linas Slušnys, Andrius Vyšniauskas and S. Šedbaras and social democrat Julius Sabatauskas voted for the project.
Agnė Širinskienė, representative of the Regions faction, spoke first. The representative of the Regions faction Česlovas Olševskis and the representative of the Democratic faction “Vardan Lietuvos” Algirdas Stončaitis abstained.
A. Vyšniauskas and L. Slušnys do not belong to the Law and Law and Order Committee, but they replaced Gabrielias Landsbergis and Dainiai Kreivis, who did not attend the meeting.
The committee will propose to reject the consideration of the close connection agreement in the Seimas
Along with the Civil Union Law Committee, the proposal submitted by conservative Paulius Saudargo was considered Legalizing a new concept in the Civil Code is a close connection.
According to A. Širinskienė, such a proposal “would give all the answers that are needed, because it also uses the concept of common life”.
However, the lawyer who participated in the meeting said that both projects are similar, so they can be confused. Her according to him, it would be appropriate to decide on one institute.
“Could there be another institute nearby?” They should then be coordinated together, looking at the legal norms, because here the intervention is made in the articles of the CC, in coordination with one and another project. It’s really hard to say how they’ll fit together. A separate study should be done here for the future, now reviewing everything that has been changed. Because to say so now, without reviewing what and where is repeated, it is difficult to say,” she said.
Member of the Seimas, conservative Andrius Vyšniauskas submitted a proposal at the committee meeting not to consider the close connection agreement draft presented by Mr. Saudargo, because it was presented not as a solution to problems, but as a competitive moment for the civil union.
“Because we have already decided that we are going with the Civil Union [įstatymo] project, which both the committee’s office and the Law Department have handled quite well, I would highly recommend not to be distracted, to put this project aside for the sake of a close relationship, living together, and to proceed consistently with the civil union project,” he said.
Six voted “for”, one “against”, and two abstained from the parliamentarian’s proposal to the Seimas to reject this draft law.
Having mentioned two alternative projects aimed at regulating the relations of unmarried persons living together, the Seimas started examining them in May.
The civil union bill was presented as a compromise by the representatives of the governing factions supporting the legalization of gender-neutral partnerships, while the amendments to the Civil Code regarding the legalization of intimate relationships are supported by more conservative parliamentarians.
The politicians who drafted the civil union bill consider it a compromise, compared to the Partnership bill rejected by the Seimas last year.
Critics say that it is similar in its regulation to marriage or family relationships, and therefore a more appropriate “intimate bond” project.
Please clarify the concept of civil union
Proponents of partnerships are calling for the definition of a civil union to be more closely related to a family relationship, while opponents say the current definition is too close to marriage and are also calling for it to be revised.
The head of the Human Rights Center, Jūratė Juškaitė, suggested “recognizing that the law aims to create and protect family relationships”. “From our point of view, it does not fully comply with the ruling of the Constitutional Court (KT), which says that the constitutional concept of family is not only marriage – a family is created not only from marriage and that the family is gender neutral,” said J at the meeting held a few weeks ago Juškaitė.
The Constitution of Lithuania stipulates that “the family is the basis of society and the state”, and “marriage is concluded by the free consent of a man and a woman”.
While considering several cases, in 2011 and 2019, the Constitutional Court has stated that “unlike the constitutional concept of marriage, the constitutional concept of family is, among other things, gender-neutral”, and the concept of family “is based on the mutual responsibility, understanding, emotional attachment, and support of family members” and by similar connections and voluntary decision to assume certain rights and obligations”.
At that time, the representative of the Lithuanian Human Rights Association, Saulius Arlauskas, said that such an interpretation means that it is about those cases when “the mother dies in the family, the father remains with his sons”, and not about same-sex partnerships. Among other things, he said, the definition of civil union is “practically a substitute for the term marriage.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, we suggest changing it to living together.” Bearing this concept in mind, then it would be possible to further formulate other articles so that there would be no contradiction to the Constitution”, said S. Arlauskas.
The chairman of the committee, Stasys Šedbaras, said that he rejects both of these proposals, because it would be a “change of concept” of the draft law and would contradict the original idea of the authors. He also emphasized that the draft law does not define and create family relationships. According to the draft law, a civil union is a voluntary agreement between two persons (partners), registered in accordance with the procedure established by legal acts, by which they seek to create and develop, protect mutual personal relationships. Ramūnas Aušrotas, the chairman of the Association for Family Preparation, said that the concept of a civil union could be changed, noting that it is intended to “regulate private property relations between individuals and related personal non-property relations”.
“It would give clarity”, said R. Aušrotas.
However, according to S. Šedbar, such an interpretation would be redundant, because it “comes out of the context” anyway.
Agnė Širinskienė, deputy of the law and order committee, also called for clarification of the concept of civil union. According to the parliamentarian, the term of partners mentioned in the concept is also used in other legal acts, for example, when adopting amendments to the Assisted Fertilization Law and “understanding that it is a partnership between a man and a woman”.
“In this case, I think that some clarification would make sense, because otherwise we would have to sit down and review those other legal acts,” said the politician.
For his part, the chairman of the Human Rights Committee, Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, said that “public fears should not be manipulated”.
“I would very much like to ask you not to mislead the public or the members of the committee, because according to the law, only those spouses and partners who cannot have offspring due to medical contraindications use the assisted fertilization service,” said the politician.
“That said, in the case of same-sex couples, the Assisted Fertilization Act will not apply to them because biologically it is not possible: there are no two different gametes in a couple,” he added.
The civil union project is being considered more than a year ago after the Seimas rejected the Partnership Law project, which wanted to legalize the partnership of both a man and a woman, as well as of persons of the same sex, defining it as an officially registered fact of cohabitation between two persons, with the aim of creating, developing and protecting partner relationships.
Partnerships are not legalized in Lithuania, neither for a man and a woman, nor for couples of the same sex. Several previous attempts by liberal politicians to legalize civil partnership in the Seimas were unsuccessful.