Executive summary

AuthorSabatauskait?, Birut?
1. Introduction
Lithuania regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. The current
Constitution1 was approved by refer endum 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 an d Russians (Poles ma ke up
6.6 % of the population and Russians account for 5.8 %, although there are certain
regions where ethni c minorities form t he 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 result s 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 %).2 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 Eurobarom eter survey.3
The lack of comprehensive equality data remain s 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 vari ous
studies, public opinion surveys and data collection by administrative bodies.
Negative attitudes are persist ent, particularly as rega rds 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 intoleranc e’ 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.
The initiatives taken by the Parliament to protect so-called traditional values’ do not
improve the situation.4 Prejudice against gay people is deeply rooted in society. The issue
of sexual orientation is addressed by the Law on Equal Treatment (LET), which is
designed to transpose EU anti-discrimination legislation. Unfortunately, the education
system is only just beginning to partly address the issue. However, there has been
significant progress in recent years, wit h more and more p eople openly supporting the
1 Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucija), 1992, No. 33-1014, available in
English at: http://www3.lrs.lt/home/Konstitucija/Co nstitution.htm.
2 Special Eurobarometer 493, Discrimination in the European Union, May 2019, available in English at:
https://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/survey/gets urveydetail/instruments/special/s
3 Eurobarometer on Discrimination 2019: the social acceptance of LGBTI people in the EU, September 2019,
available in English: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/inf o/files/ebs_493_data_fact_lgbti_eu_e n-1.pdf.
4 Draft Law Amending Article 38 of the Constitution (Konstitucijos 38 str aipsnio pakeitimo statymo
projektas), 17 June 2016, available in Lithuanian at: https://e-
seimas.lrs.lt/portal/legalAct/lt/TAP/0be20 cb0348411e6a222b0cd86c2adfc?jfwid=1dlo7extc9.
There have been other examples of such initiatives ov er the years. The Parliament adopted the Law on
Strengthening the Family in 2017, which stresses that the complementarity of man and a woman is the
basis of the family.
Law on Strengthening the Family (Šeimos stiprinimo statymas), 19 October 2017, available in Lithuanian
at: https://e-seimas.lrs.lt/portal/legalAct/lt/ TAD/71039aa2b98511e7967a9645b537eb05.

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