On the occasion of International Human Rights Day we submitted a petition to the Parliament demanding the inclusion of ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Lithuanian Labour Code and the Law on Equal Opportunities.
Transgender people are one of the most marginalized groups in Lithuania, and often face discrimination in the labor market; however, discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or gender expression is not explicitly prohibited under Lithuanian legislation.
Most problems arise from the fact that Lithuanian laws seem to refuse to acknowledge the existence of trans people and thus fail to ensure their human rights. Even though Lithuania has an obligation to implement the right to legally change one’s gender—this right is also entrenched in the Civil Code—up until now, this obligation has not been fulfilled and no law regulating legal gender recognition exists. In 2007, in the case of L v. Lithuania, the European Court of Human Rights held that by delaying the implementation of the rights of transgender people under the Civil Code, Lithuania violated the European Convention on Human Rights. Because of Lithuania’s continued failure to implement the Court’s decision, this case was put under enhanced supervision procedure in 2014. However, instead of ensuring the rights of transgender people, Lithuania to this day pays thousands in fines yearly.
Because of the inaccessibility of legal gender recognition, transgender people encounter various difficulties at work and when looking for employment. In order to change their documents to ones matching their gender identity, transgender persons must go to court and prove their gender identity by presenting a psychiatric diagnosis and other “proof”. It is a time- and money-consuming, emotionally draining process, inaccessible to many transgender people. However, without documents that match one’s gender identity, many transgender people find it difficult to find a job and keep it. It is also difficult to earn enough for anything more than survival, let alone all the financial expenses related to the transitioning process. This can turn into a cycle that is difficult to escape. Thus many trans people are forced to leave for countries where their human rights and dignity are better protected.
Legal gaps also impede the implementation of transgender people’s right to privacy and protection of personal data, which only increases the risk of discrimination. During the employment process, transgender people who have not had their gender marker and documents changed are forced to provide documents that do not reflect their gender identity, only their current legal state. In order to have their identity and gender expression respected, transgender people are often forced to reveal personal information, such as their medical records and transgender status. In the event that a transgender person’s employer or coworkers react negatively to their identity, this can create conditions for hate crime, harassment and discrimination.
Sign a petition demanding that Lithuanian State institutions fulfill their obligations and ensure the protection of the human rights of transgender people:
Translation of the petition text:
Transgender people are one of the most marginalized groups in Lithuania.
Lack of legal regulation regarding gender identity, lack of gender reassignment procedures and other necessary health services and pathologization of the diagnosis of transsexualism exacerbate social isolation, damage transgender people’s dignity and mental health, and create opportunities for discrimination and hate crimes. Transgender people are especially vulnerable to discrimination in the labor market and in the spheres of healthcare and education.
Because of this, many trans people are forced to leave for countries where their human rights and dignity are better protected.
In this petition, we urge the Parliament and the Government to ensure the implementation of transgender human rights in Lithuania, to hold the responsible institutions accountable for carrying out their obligations, and guarantee transgender people their right to dignity as enshrined in the Constitution.
In accordance with fundamental human rights principles, Lithuania’s international obligations, and recommendations from international organizations, we demand the following:
- to include the prohibition of discrimination on the ground of gender identity in national legislation – Lithuanian Labor Code and the Law on Equal Opportunities;
- to fill existing legal gaps by adopting legislation regulating legal gender recognition and ensure the right entrenched in the Civil Code to legally change one’s gender and personal records;
- to adopt a directive for the provision of healthcare services to transgender people, ensuring safe and accessible medical gender reassignment and other healthcare services;
- to repeal legal provisions that prevent transgender people from working in certain jobs due to a psychiatric diagnosis of “transsexualism”;
- to revise current regulations and compose new legal acts in accordance with the latest revision to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, under which transgender identity is removed from the category of “mental and behavioural disorders” (that is, depathologized) and instead included in the category of “conditions related to sexual health.”
May 1st Labor Union