The Lithuanian parliament, or Seimas. CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Lithuania may be a small country (estimated population 2.8 million) but the former captive of the Soviet Union is not about to cave in to the sexual culture endorsed by its Big Brothers in the European Union. Not the majority of this Baltic nation, anyway.
Earlier this month the parliament of Lithuania, the Seimas, rejected draft proposals for the legalization of same-sex partnerships that were backed mostly by members of the liberal faction.
Some 29 members of the Seimas voted in support of the bill, 59 voted against, and 20 abstained from voting. Abstaining at the introduction of a bill is essentially equivalent of voting against the project, since it must collect the majority of supporting votes.
In traditional party terms, supporting votes came from nine conservatives and nine social democrats along with eight liberals and three non-attached members. No member of the parliament from the factions of ruling Farmers and Greens Union, Order and Justice, or the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania supported the proposal for partnerships.
The project for same-sex partnerships was not returned for revision, but was rejected completely by a decisive vote of 64:43. Vytautas Sinica, a political scientist at Vilnius University, comments:
“According to polls, more than 80 percent of Lithuanians are clearly against any form of same-sex partnership and the number exceeds 90 percent among the voters of the ruling Farmers and Greens party. In has become a bad habit in Lithuania to vote not according to the will of majority of the people and moral principles, but to please liberal media and Brussels bureaucrats. There is an effort to breach the national consensus on moral. It is clear that, in the 'conservative' Homeland Union, whose members are almost split in half on the issue, the youngest generation of supposed conservatives is voting against the natural family.
“This landslide decision against the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, decided mostly by ruling party votes, will not have much practical impact, but it is an encouraging turn of events for traditional voters in Lithuania.”
The same-sex partnerships bill was rejected not long after parliament voted for the Agreement of Co-habitation Bill, legislation drafted mostly by members from the Farmers and other conservative ranks. The aim of the Agreement is to coordinate and adjust the legal relations of all residents who are living together, situations from which practical problems arise. This includes friends, grown up brothers and/or sisters, even monks — basically, whoever cohabits with one or more persons, with or without romantic sentiment. The emotional aspect in such cases is irrelevant, according to the legislation being considered.
However, according to the Agreement, cohabiting persons who do not declare an aim to create a familial relationship (that is, they are not getting married), and do not have shared offspring, are not to be considered a family. In this way the Agreement would protect the natural family, because it would not equate other forms of living together to the unique union of a married man and woman, together with their children. The bill is yet to go through further steps of the legislative process.
Lithuanians are one of the most socially conservative nations in the European Union and one of only a few remaining EU countries with no form of legal recognition of same-sex couples.
Vytautas Sinica is a political scientist and co-founder of Catholic youth NGO Pro Patria and news website of the same name (propatria.lt). He writes from Vilnius in Lithuania.