Annual activity report of the Member of the Seimas Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius for the year 2022
1. Law on Civil Union
- On 26 May 2022 the “compromise” draft Law on Civil Union passed the submission stage in the Lithuanian Parliament with 70 votes in favour, 49 against and 6 abstentions.
- I have not sponsored this particular piece of legislation, because the draft law does not include certain guarantees that are important for the LGBT+ community, such as the possibility to obtain the surname of one’s partner or the possibility to register a civil union in a civil registry office.
- Although the Law on Civil Union is an excessive “compromise” solution and does not guarantee full equality for LGBT+ people and their families, it would be a major step forward in the right direction. The legal status of a ‘partner’ would allow partners, who have entered into a civil union, to benefit from more than 60 pieces of legislation that foresee legal rights and obligations for the partners – from the right to inherit without additional taxes to the state support for first home ownership.
- In June 2022, the draft Law on Civil Union was approved by the Committee on Human Rights and in September – by the Committee on Legal Affairs. In November, representatives of the opposition tried to block the consideration of the draft law in the Parliament by commissioning an impact assessment. However, the impact assessment concluded that the proposed legislation would have a positive impact on the overall legal system.
- The Parliament will vote on the Law on Civil Union at the consideration stage (i.e. second hearing) during the spring session of 2023.
- The draft Law on Civil Union is available here: https://bit.ly/3VMHgFJ.
2. Activities of the Human Rights Committee
- Assistance to victims of war. The Committee on Human Rights has been active in responding to the humanitarian situation regarding the provision of aid to people fleeing the war in Ukraine, and has actively exercised its mandate in the field of parliamentary oversight. The Lithuanian Parliament approved the proposal by the Freedom Party to accommodate refugee families in the so-called “Seimas Hotel” – I was one of the first MPs to shelter a Ukrainian family in a Parliament’s hotel room.
- Ensuring human rights of asylum seekers and migrants. In response to cases of sexual violence allegedly committed in migrant accommodation centres, the Committee on Human Rights called on the State Border Guard Service and the Ministry of the Interior to establish clear procedures for investigating possible cases of sexual harassment and (or) violence. The Committee on Human Rights also actively opposed proposals to continue the detention of migrants through administrative decisions – the Committee sought to ensure that even in emergency situations a person’s liberty could only be restricted only by a court judgment.
- Legal status of foreigners. Seimas approved the Committee’s proposal that migrants in Lithuania should acquire the right to employment 12 months after the date of their registration in the migration system. This amendment will facilitate the integration of local foreigners into the economic and cultural life of the country and will reduce their social exclusion and marginalization.
- The agendas and recordings of the meetings of the Committee on Human Rights are available here: https://bit.ly/3cPmorF.
- Amendments to the Law on Protection against Domestic Violence. The Lithuanian Parliament has introduced a 15-day protection order, which will provide a ‘period of calm’ for a person experiencing or being at risk of domestic violence. In other words, during this period, the victim, if she ir he desires, will be provided with all the necessary assistance to ‘break the vicious circle’ of domestic violence.
- Amendments to the Law on the Diplomatic Service. Seimas has approved my proposal to grant the guarantees provided by the law not only to a diplomat’s spouse, but also to a diplomat’s partner. These amendments not only eliminate legal discrimination, but are also an ‘ice-breaker’ for pursuing respect and equality for various types of families in different areas of life.
- Amendments to the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. The Lithuanian Parliament has approved amendments banning sexual harassment not only in the field of employment, but also in other areas of public life, such as in the fields of goods or services, education and activities by associations.
- Amendments to the Law on the Burial of Human Remains. Seimas has approved my proposal to extend the rights and duties in the course of implementing a deceased’s last will, care and burial not only by a spouse or a close relatives, but also by a partners. The amendment also contributes to the coherence of the legal system by providing legal guarantees for persons living in various types of family arrangements.
- The right of transgender people to change their legal name. Transgender people were provided with the means to change their legal names in their personal identification documents without a court judgment. Now transgender people can simply carry out this procedure of name change by going to the civil registry office. I am grateful to the Minister of Justice for her leadership!
- Other legislative initiatives launched by me are available here: https://bit.ly/3DUjpKl
4. Other activities
- We have stopped blood homophobia. The discriminatory ban on blood donations by gay men in Lithuania was lifted on 1 May 2022. Let’s save lives together!
- We helped to establish the Human Rights Commission in Vilnius. The aim of the Commission is to ensure the interests of every citizen in the City of Vilnius and to advance human rights in the municipality. We are building a city open for all.
- Staying committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion. In order to support Ukraine’s European integration, together with our colleagues from the Freedom Party, we decorated the street in front of the Ukrainian Embassy in Vilnius with the slogan ‘Ukraine, We Want You in the EU’. We also took part in the ‘Baltic Pride’ March for Equality with our colleagues – it was great to see so many open, brave, positive and joyful people on the streets of Vilnius.
- I represent the most transparent group in the Parliament. According to the Transparency International, the political group of Freedom Party was the most transparent in the Seimas. We are showing leadership in building a political culture based on openness!
- Total draft laws submitted – 21.
- Total times voted – 1,835.
- 96,4% of plenary sittings attended.
- More than 30 interviews.
- 94 meetings with interested parties
- Participation in more than 84 events.