Lithuania's ruling coalition of liberals and conservatives has agreed on passing a gender-neutral partnership law, according to Parliament Speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen.
“We have a consensus on this in the coalition,” she told LRT TV on Wednesday.
The partnership law, which would recognise same-sex unions, has already been drafted and will be registered in the parliament “in the coming weeks”, according to Čmilytė-Nielsen, who is one of the authors of the bill.
According to the speaker, it took time and effort to finalise the bill acceptable to both the liberals and the conservatives.
“Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people have been waiting for such a bill for decades now. So, it's natural that every effort has been taken to ensure that it is prepared properly,” she said.
Other MPs behind the legislative package, which would recognise civil partnership not only between men and women, but also of same-sex couples, are Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, Paulė Kuzmickienė, Andrius Navickas, Ieva Pakarklytė and Eugenijus Gentvilas.
The Liberal Movement and the Freedom Party, the junior partners in Lithuania's ruling coalition, have endorsed same-sex partnership in their campaign. However, the conservative Homeland Union (TS-LKD), which dominates the coalition, has chanpioned ‘traditional’ family. The party's leaders have previously said that opinions were split about same-sex partnership among the conservatives.
While the bill's text has not been made public yet, Delfi.lt has reported that it defines civil partnership as “the fact of cohabitation of two persons (partners), registered in accordance with the procedure established by legal acts, for the purpose of establishing and (or) developing, and protecting the relationship of the partners”.
Among other things, partners would be able to formally register their partnership with the Civil Registry Office and would be permitted to adopt each other's last name.
Crucially, same-sex partners would not be allowed to adopt children.
All assets acquired by either partner after entering into partnership would be considered common property.
Ending a partnership would be easier than ending a civil marriage. Spouses must turn to court to get divorced even if they have no children. A registered partnership could be dissolved by a notary as long as there are no children involved.
Currently, Lithuanian laws do not recognise civil partnership for either opposite-sex or same-sex couples. Several previous attempts by liberal politicians to legislate civil partnerships fell through at an early stage of the parliamentary process.