Lithuania (CCPR 29-08-2018)
The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of Lithuania (CCPR/C/LTU/4) at its 3502nd and 3403rd meetings (see CCPR/C/SR.3502 and 3503), held on 10 and 11 July 2018. At its 3517th meeting, held on 20 July 2018, it adopted the following concluding observations.
C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity
- The Committee is concerned at the persistence of stereotypical attitudes, prejudice, hostility and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. Recalling its previous recommendation (see CCPR/C/LTU/CO/3, para. 8), the Committee remains concerned that certain legal instruments, such as the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information, may be applied, including by the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics, to restrict media and other content in a manner that unduly restricts freedom of expression regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues and contributes to discrimination. While noting the information provided by the State party, the Committee remains concerned at various legislative initiatives, including proposed amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences, the Constitution and the Civil Code, which would limit the enjoyment of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons under the Covenant. The Committee is also concerned that same-sex couples are not legally recognized in the State party, including those legally married and recognized outside Lithuania. The Committee is further concerned about the lack of clarity in legislation and procedures concerning the change of civil status with respect to gender identity, in particular, the absence of legislation enabling gender reassignment procedures and change of civil status without undergoing gender reassignment surgery (arts. 2, 3, 16, 17, 19, 23 and 26).
- The State party should intensify its efforts to eliminate discrimination, in law and in practice, against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, ensure that legislation is not interpreted and applied in a discriminatory manner against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and refrain from adopting any legislation that would impede the full enjoyment of their Covenant rights. It should review relevant legislation to fully recognize the equality of same-sex couples and ensure that legislation concerning the change of civil status with respect to gender identity is clear and applied in accordance with the rights guaranteed under the Covenant, including through the enactment of legislation on gender reassignment procedures.
Hate speech and hate crimes
- While noting the legislative and other measures taken by the State party to combat hate speech and hate crimes, the Committee remains concerned about intolerance and prejudice towards vulnerable and minority groups, including Roma, Jews, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, as well as the prevalence of hate speech and hate crimes against these groups, including on the Internet. The Committee is concerned that hate speech and hate crimes based on gender identity are not expressly prohibited in national legislation (article 170 of the Criminal Code) and at reports that the aggravating circumstance established under article 60.1.12 of the Criminal Code has never been applied on the ground of sexual orientation. The Committee is further concerned at the low number of complaints, investigations, cases brought before domestic courts and convictions of hate crimes and the lack of information on penalties imposed. While noting the State party’s statement that data collection has improved, the Committee regrets the lack of accurate official data disaggregated by social group with regard to complaints about discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes (arts. 2, 3, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26 and 27).
- The State party should:
(a) Strengthen its efforts to combat intolerance, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination towards vulnerable and minority groups, including Roma, Jews, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, by, inter alia, increasing training for law enforcement personnel, prosecutors and the judiciary and conducting awareness-raising campaigns promoting sensitivity and respect for diversity among the general public;
(b) Increase its efforts to prevent hate speech and hate crimes, including by effectively implementing article 170 of the Criminal Code, and ensure that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is prohibited by law, including on the ground of gender identity, in accordance with articles 19 and 20 of the Covenant and the Committee’s general comment No. 34 (2011) on the freedoms of opinion and expression;
(c) Encourage the reporting of hate crimes and hate speech and ensure that crimes are promptly identified and registered as such, including through the establishment of a comprehensive, disaggregated data-collection system;
(d) Strengthen the investigation capacity of law enforcement officials on hate crimes and criminal hate speech, including on the Internet, and ensure that all cases are systematically investigated, that perpetrators are held accountable with penalties commensurate with the crime and that victims have access to full reparation.