Situation of homosexuals and treatment by authorities and society in general [LTU34173.E]

The 1999 International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) World Legal Survey describes the current legal status of homosexuals in Lithuania as follows:

In June 1993 the Lithuanian Parliament abolished Article 122.1 Penal Code. This article (a remnant of the Soviet era), punished consensual male-to-male sex between adults with a penalty of up to three years imprisonment. Article 122.2 Penal Code, which criminalizes (with a penalty of 3 to 8 years' imprisonment) male-to-male sex involving violence, state of helplessness or dependence of one of the persons involved, and male-to-male sex with minors, with a penalty of 3 to 8 years imprisonment remains in force.
In the period immediately prior to repeal, the law was still enforced: "Since the Republic of Lithuania regained its independence on 11 March 1990, [and prior to reform of the law] seven men, including one minor, have been sentenced to 3 - 8 years imprisonment for male to male sex relations. Three were sentenced in 1990, four in 1991, and one is currently in the courts. One of the men found guilty was, at the time of his arrest, chair of the NGO Lithuanian Human Rights Committee. According to the Vilnius-based Lithuanian Gay and Lesbian Information Bureau his arrest was widely seen as political harassment of the Human Rights Committee. The minor was 17 years old at the time of sentencing. He is serving a three-year term" (ILGA bulletin 3/92 p. 20)
The minimum age for gay male oral and anal intercourse is set at 18 (Art. 122 par.2: 3 to 8 years). Other gay male relations are criminal only if committed with minors under 16 and if being considered as "depraving" the minor (Art. 121 CC). The legality of lesbian and heterosexual contacts is as follows: vaginal, anal and oral intercourse with sexually immature children (under 14 immaturity is irrefutably presumed) is criminal under all circumstances; other sexual contacts with minors under 16 are criminal, if the contact is considered to "deprave" the minor.
Lithuanian Movement for Sexual Equality (LMSE) was officially registered on 22nd of September 1993.
The situation for gays, lesbians and bisexuals in military are not regulated by any law.

The Lithuanian Gay League Website provides the following description of the situation of homosexuals in Lithuania:

In Lithuania, there are no laws to protect lesbians and gay men against discrimination. The draft version of the revised Penal Code neglects to include anti-discrimination legislation regarding sexual orientation. The old Soviet Civil Code exclude same-sex partners. Lesbians and gay men therefore face discrimination in inheritance, insurance, pension, child custody, etc. The unofficial marriage ceremony of two gay men in one of biggest churches in 1997 was condemned in media by Catholic church officials. The international research on human values reveals that Lithuania had the lowest index on acceptance of homosexuality in Europe in 1991. In 1997 it went up from 1,3 to 1,86 but is still amongst the lowest together with Poland and Hungary. Negative attitudes towards lesbians and gay men are extremely strong among older nationalist catholic citizens. Unfortunately this outlook is reflected in the policies of social institutions, particularly education and health services, which for the most part, deny the very existence of lesbians and gay men in this society. The President and the Speaker of the Parliament denied to speak about the situation of homosexuals in a recent television talk show. The official registration of Lithuanian Gay League was delayed for a significant period by the Ministry of Justice, which insisted that since the word "gay" does not exist in the Lithuanian language, no group with that word in its name could be registered. The national health magazine sponsored by the Ministry of Health recently published a condemning article and labelled homosexuals as sick and perverted. The government run Youth Council denied funding for gay and lesbian human rights project. The negative reaction of the Catholic church has not only blocked initiatives at Government level, but has also contributed to a situation where many lesbians and gay individuals in Lithuania feel compelled by fear to remain in the closet.

However, the January 2000 issue of the ILGA Euro-letter states that the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice had since released a revised version of the new draft Penal Code. According to Euro-letter:

Article 160 "Discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, sex, origin, religion, or other group membership" provides for imprisonment of up to 3 years for "acts, which were aimed to prevent [a] population group or its member to participate equally in political, economical, social, cultural or work activity because of their nationality, race, sex, sexual orientation, origin, religion or other group membership". Although the authors omit "sexual orientation" in the article's title, it is included in the text for the first time in the legal history of the country.
Article 161 of the draft document "Instigation against national, racial, ethnic, religious or other population group" provides for up to 3 years imprisonment for persons and companies which jeer, disdain or otherwise show bias towards belonging to national, racial, ethnic, religious or other population group. Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Justice Gintaras Svedas told BNS news agency that [the] notion "other population group" also comprises sexual minorities.
Earlier Vice-minister of Justice also acknowledged that under the current Penal Code of Lithuania the age of consent for heterosexuals and lesbians is 16 and for gay men 18 years of age. "Such regulation has also caused criticism of Lithuanian lawyers - a voluntary satisfaction of sexual lust between pubescent men can not be rated as a crime, since in this case there is no violation of sexual self-determination or inviolability" Vice-Minister Gintaras Svedas wrote in his explanation to [the] European committee of [the] Seimas (Parliament). He told BNS news agency that the new draft Penal Code does not contain such discriminatory regulation.
The first draft of the new Penal Code (Published in 1996) did not include "sexual orientation", "other group" or related terms to protect lesbians and gays. Lithuanian Gay League responded to Parliament and Government institutions with non-discriminatory legislation campaign supported by mainstream media.
It is expected that the new Penal Code will be adopted by the Lithuanian Seimas (Parliament) this year. Hopefully, the provisions to protect lesbians and gays will be passed although they might be opposed by the Conservative and Christian Democrat majority coalition. (January 2000)

Euro-Letter also quotes a Vice-Minister of Justice as saying that Lithuanian society was not ready for same sex marriages and that provisions in the new draft of the Civil Code bans such a practice. The Vice-Minister also stated that Roman Catholics are a majority in Lithuania and have an antagonistic attitude towards homosexuality.

No further information on the situation of homosexuals in Lithuania 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 to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Euro-Letter. January 2000. No. 76. Eduardas Platovas, "Lithuanian Penal Code Draft Includes Sexual Orientation." [Accessed: 3 Apr. 2000]

_____. 24 October 1999. News from ILGA Europe: Police Actions in Ukraine. [Accessed: 3 Apr. 2000]

Lithuanian Gay League (LGL). 1998-99. General Description of the Situation of Homosexuals in Lithuania. [Accessed: 3 Apr. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted


IRB databases

Internet Sources, including:

Country Reports 1999

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)

World News Connection (WNC).