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Lithuanian parliament postpones discussion on constitutional definition of family

Pirmasis Seimo rudens sesijos plenarinis posėdis
Šarūno Mažeikos/BFL nuotr. / Pirmasis Seimo rudens sesijos plenarinis posėdis
Šaltinis: BNS

Lithuania's parliament opened first discussions on a draft Constitutional amendment, aiming to change the constitutional definition of family. The bill stipulates that family is exclusively a result of heterosexual marriage and parenthood and was drafted as a response to a recent Constitutional Court ruling that undermined policies pursued by the current conservative-led government. Due to many MPs wanting to make statements on the bill, the Parliament decided on Thursday to move discussions to the next plenary.

The bid to postpone the debates was supported by 62 parliamentarians, while 22 wanted to continue the discussion on Thursday.

The bill under discussion states that family is created exclusively by way of marriage, which is entered into by free consent of a man and a woman. The proposal is that the Constitution should be amended with a sentence that “family is also the result of motherhood and fatherhood."

Draft Constitutional amendments must be discussed and put to a vote twice during plenaries, with a break of at least three months. An amendment is adopted if it secures support of at least 94 members of Lithuania's 141-seat parliament in each ballot.

The bill has attracted wide criticism from opposition politicians and organizations, saying that the notion is discriminatory to single parents, unmarried partners and same-sex couples. Some view the bill as an attempt to prevent any future move towards legalizing homosexual partnerships.

The Constitutional amendment linking family and marriage was proposed by 98 members of the Lithuanian parliament after the Constitutional Court ruled last September that the 2008 provisions of Lithuania's state family concept, which only lists individuals living in wedlock as family, runs counter to the Constitution.

According to the court's ruling, “the marriage institution is a historically formed family pattern, which undoubtedly has exclusive value in public life," but that it is not the only possible family form.

The current version of Article 38 of the Constitution suggests that family is the basis of the society and the state; that family, motherhood, fatherhood, and childhood are under the protection and care of the state; that marriage is concluded upon free mutual consent of a man and a woman.

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