Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda is on Monday meeting with a mother who is fighting for the rights of her child and other LGBTQ+ people. Nausėda has been emphasising his support for traditional family values.
Rasa Račienė, a medical doctor, says she is seeking a meeting with Nausėda to ask that the president and his circle “use rhetoric that unites, rather than divides Lithuania”.
She says she hears remarks, threats and abusive comments about LGBTQ+ people every day, sometimes from members of her own family.
“My heart is in pain because all these words are about my child,” she says. “Every day, I worry that something may happen to my child, that all the bullying and hate in the public space will destroy my child emotionally and break them. Believe me, it is unbearable, it is humiliating and it hurts me to the core.”
Račienė is also asking the president to talk with the community – children, their parents and NGOs defending LGBTQ+ rights – about the problems of LGBTQ+ people, rather than with “third parties”, such as the Catholic Church.
She also says she wants the president's “personal promise” that Lithuania will adopt a respectful and dignified partnership law.
The Lithuanian parliament voted on a same-sex partnership law last May, coming several votes short. Subsequently, however, President Nausėda commented that he would have vetoed the bill, because the way it defined civil partnership came too close to marriage.
Račienė wrote an open letter to Nausėda last week. The president then told reporters he would meet Račienė on Monday.
“I am ready to talk; I am ready to listen,” he said.
He added, however, that LGBTQ+ people were not the only ones suffering from hateful attacks. He suggested that some people face bullying for anti-LGBTQ+ views.
“When the mother speaks about bullying, about threats, we all face this phenomenon today, regardless of sexual orientation. There is clearly too much confrontation in Lithuania today,” Nausėda commented.
“It will be really interesting for me to talk with her about her views on the persecution of other groups in society for thinking differently than this group,” he added.
A number of public figures and politicians have criticized Nausėda for his conservative stance on LGBTQ+ issues and have called for a stronger defence of the community's rights.
A report published last week by the NGO Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights suggests that same-sex couples suffer from unequal treatment and seek to have their relationships legally recognized in a partnership law.
Opponents say the report fails to meet the criteria for a representative comprehensive study.
Currently, Lithuanian laws do not recognise either opposite-sex or same-sex civil partnership. Several previous attempts by liberal politicians to legislate civil partnerships fell through at an early stage of the parliamentary process.