- European Union Publications Office
- Publication date:
Lithuania regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. The current Constitution was approved by referendum in 1992. On 1 May 2004 Lithuania joined the European Union, requiring significant changes to be made to the legal system in little over a decade to meet EU and international standards without broader discussion. According to the general census carried out in 2011, Lithuanians account for 84.2 % of the population, with the biggest minority groups being Poles and Russians (Poles make up 6.6 % of the population and Russians account for 5.8 %, although there are certain regions where ethnic minorities form the majority). The same may be applied to religion and beliefs: 77.2 % of the population consider themselves to be Roman Catholics; 10.1 % did not indicate their religion; 4.1 % are Orthodox; and 8.6 % belong to other religious communities. Hence, Lithuania could be considered a rather homogenous country. That is supported by the results of the 2019 Eurobarometer survey on discrimination: only 18 % of Lithuanian residents think that discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin is widespread in the country (the EU average is 59 %), and just 15 % think that religious discrimination is widespread (the average in the EU is 47 %). However, the same Eurobarometer survey shows that Lithuanian residents think that discrimination is most widespread on the basis of being Roma (48 %), sexual orientation (50 %), being perceived as too old or too young (45 %), disability (37 %) and being transgender (36 %). Attitudes towards LGB persons were among the least accepting in the EU according to the 2019 Eurobarometer survey. The lack of comprehensive equality data remains a barrier to assessing the real situation faced by certain vulnerable groups. A comprehensive equality data collection system has not yet been established. The data that are currently available mostly derive from various studies, public opinion surveys and data collection by administrative bodies. Negative attitudes are persistent, particularly as regards certain groups. The potential vulnerability of particular communities can be assessed by analysing the data from annual surveys on public attitudes towards various minority groups, which reveal that the ‘hierarchy of intolerance’ remains the same – Roma persons, ex-convicts, ‘mentally disabled people’, refugees, migrants and the LGBT community are the least tolerated groups in Lithuania, and thus the most vulnerable to discrimination.