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Lithuania: Treatment of homosexuals by state authorities and society; availability of state protection (2003-2005)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 22 December 2005
Citation / Document Symbol LTU100800.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Lithuania: Treatment of homosexuals by state authorities and society; availability of state protection (2003-2005), 22 December 2005, LTU100800.E, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
Comments Corrected version March 2007
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to reports of 2004 on the situation of human rights in Lithuania, homosexuals in Lithuania continue to face discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation and still experience "social exclusion" (Country Reports 2004 28 February 2005, Sec. 5; ILGA Europa April 2004).

A 2002 Lithuanian Gay League report, used in the formulation of a 2004 International Lesbian and Gay (ILGA) publication on sexual orientation discrimination in ten countries including Lithuania (ILGA 2004), stated that gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals living in Lithuania experienced "some form of violence or harassment" as a result of their sexuality (Lithuanian Gay League 2002, 5). The 2002 survey from Lithuania did not claim to provide statistically accurate results as there were only 185 respondents (ibid., 7). Seventy per cent of respondents were male, and thirty per cent were female, of which fifty-two per cent identified themselves as gay and eighteen per cent identified themselves as lesbian, eighteen per cent as bisexual men and twelve per cent as bisexual women (ibid., 10). The study showed that sixty-seven per cent of all respondents concealed their sexual orientation from their parents (ibid.). The document noted that another study conducted in 2002 showed that almost half of the heterosexuals surveyed would try to change the sexual orientation of their homosexual children (ibid., 10-11).

According to the Lithuanian Gay League report, respondents experienced a high level of "violence" (2002, 5). Only 15 per cent of the respondents had reported incidents of harassment to the police (ibid.). The study noted that this fact reflected a general "mistrust of the police institution by sexual minorities" (ibid.). The report also stated that there were no "clear signal from police authorities that homophobic abuse [would] not be tolerated in Lithuania" (ibid., 14).

The same report suggested that the workplace remained a significant setting for much of the violence, harassment and discrimination experienced by gays, lesbians and bisexuals (ibid., 17, 18). Eighty-eight per cent of the participants reported that they had remained silent in their jobs "to avoid a negative effect on their careers" (ibid., 18). Only 15 per cent of respondents talked openly about their sexual orientation in their work place (ibid.). The study also established that

[d]iscriminatory treatment in the workplace, various spheres of service, religious institutions and even in the family [had led] as many as 63% of the respondents to consider emigration as the main option to improve their lives as lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals (ibid., 5).

The Law on Equal Opportunities, adopted by Lithuania's parliament on 18 November 2003 (Lithuania 18 Nov. 2003), was implemented on 1 January 2005 (EC 24 Oct. 2005). The law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of "age, sexual orientation, disability, racial or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs" (Lithuania 18 Nov. 2003) According to the law, state institutions and municipal institutions are obliged to promote equality (ibid.). No information about changes occurring in the workplace regarding the treatment of homosexuals could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate (since the Law on Equal Opportunities was implemented).

According to the Government of Lithuania's mid-term report on the "National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Republic of Lithuania", a national program and an action plan to counter homophobia must be prepared in order to assure protection of Lithuanian sexual minorities (Lithuania 2005). No information on whether the program and the action plan were developed during 2005 could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

On 30 September 2005, approximately 50 people marched in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, to show their opposition to a possible Gay Pride parade and the "'spread'" of homosexuality in Lithuania (Lithuanian Gay League 4 Oct. 2005). A news article reported that Audrys Juozas Backis, a Lithuanian cardinal and the archbishop of Vilnius, noted that the "[c]hurch treats homosexuality as a lack of identity and [a] perversion [and that] therefore, homosexual people should not be allowed to enter the priesthood"(Lithuanian ELTA 24 Nov. 2005).

No information on availability of state protection specific to gay, lesbians and bisexual people could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. 28 February 2005. "Lithuania." United States Department of State. [Accessed 5 Dec. 2005]

European Commission (EC). 24 October 2005. Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunites. "Anti-Discrimination and Relations with Civil Society: Implementation of Anti-Discrimination Directives into National Law: Lithuania". [Accessed 6 Dec. 2005]

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Europe. April 2004. "Meeting the Challenge of Accession." Surveys on Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Countries Joining the Europa Union. [Accessed 2 Dec. 2005]

Lithuania. 2005. Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania. Support to the Implementation of the National Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Republic of Lithuania: Mid-Term Report. [Accessed 6 Dec. 2005]
_____. 18 November 2003. "Law on Equal Treatment." No. IX – 1826. [Accessed 6 Dec. 2005]

Lithuanian Gay League. 4 October 2005. Juris Lavrikovs. "Anti-Gay Demonstration in Vilinus." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2005]
_____. 2002. "Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2005]

Lithuanian News Agency (ELTA). 24 November 2005. "Head of Catholic Church in Lithuania Sees Homosexual Behaviour as Violating Natural Law." (Factiva)

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, Freedom House, Gay Times, Human Rights Watch, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, La France Gay et Lesbienne, Lthuanian Human Rights Association, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Open Society Fund Lithuania, RFSL Ungdom.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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