Right to Private and Family Life

IV. Right to Gender Identity and Access to Healthcare for Transgender People

The Civil Code provides that unmarried adults have the right to change the designation of their sex through medical means. [1] The Civil Code also provides that the conditions and procedures for gender reassignment shall be prescribed by law, [2] but no piece of legislation currently in force sets out detailed conditions and procedures for changing one's sex. In its 2007 ruling in the case of L. v Lithuania, the European Court of Human Rights obliged Lithuania to enact subsidiary legislation to Article 2.27 of its Civil Code on gender reassignment of transgender. [3] 

It has now been eleven years since the entry into force of the Civil Code and six years since the ECtHR judgment in the case of L. v Lithuania became final, but there are still no legal arrangements in Lithuania for obtaining legal gender recognition and accessing healthcare services.

It has now been eleven years since the entry into force of the Civil Code and six years since the ECtHR judgment in the case of L. v Lithuania became final, but there are still no legal arrangements in Lithuania for obtaining legal gender recognition and accessing healthcare services. 

This means that gender reassignment surgery is not available in Lithuania for persons who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, while those who change their gender abroad must travel to Lithuania bearing identity documents that do not match their new sex. Amending entries in civil status documents (name, last name, gender and personal code) after undergoing full gender reassignment surgery can only be done through the courts.[4] 

On 6 June 2013, the Government's representative to the ECtHR submitted an action plan on solving the aforementioned problems: firstly, it sought to abolish the Civil Code provision specifying that the conditions and procedures for gender reassignment are to be prescribed by law – instead of mandatory procedures, the relevant authorities (for example, universities and/or medical professional societies) would be given the opportunity to develop non-compulsory treatment methodologies; and secondly, it proposed a simplified procedure for amending entries in civil status documents – entries could be changed by submitting a gender reassignment certificate issued by a health care institution to a civil registry office.[5] 

The first proposal was criticized by both representatives of transgender persons and non-governmental organizations.[6] Taking into account the fact that Lithuania is one of the leading countries in the European Union with respect to the discrimination of transgender persons,[7] it is unlikely that non-compulsory diagnosis and treatment methodologies would be developed promptly or even in a reasonable amount of time, or that they would provide for covering the costs of gender reassignment surgery and treatment. Nevertheless, the Parliament gave its initial approval to these proposed draft amendments to the Civil Code, and they are still being discussed in parliamentary committees.[8] 

Even though the second proposal could be considered to be a step towards implementing the ECtHR judgment, on 8 July 2014 the Parliament returned the draft Law on the Registration of Civil Status Documents[9] to the Committee on Legal Affairs for further improvement, instructing it to remove any mention of gender reassignment registration, referring to gender reassignment itself as "nonsense".[10] Finally, in October 2014 the Parliament returned the draft law to the Ministry of Justice.[11] 

Lithuania's inability to ensure respect for the right to private life of transgender people attracted the attention of the Council of Europe: on 25 September 2014, the Committee of Ministers decided to transfer the case of L. v Lithuania to the enhanced supervision procedure.[12] This means that, starting from 2015, the delegates of 47 Council of Europe member states will be able to make a quarterly review of the actions taken by the Lithuanian authorities to ensure that their citizens are able to effectively change identity documents and to access healthcare. 

Findings and Recommendations 

  • The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of L. v Lithuania, dating back from 2007, was not implemented during the 2013-2014 period. It is still impossible for individuals to medically undergo gender reassignment surgery in Lithuania, nor are there any administrative procedures in place for changing entries in civil status documents.
  • It is recommended to establish the procedure for gender reassignment, as well as all related health care services, by means of an act of law, which would also regulate the coverage of the costs of surgery and treatment.
  • It is recommended to adopt all necessary legal amendments to provide for a quick, transparent and accessible procedure for legal gender recognition.
  • When drafting proposals to amend existing legislation or to enact new legislation concerning to the regulation of gender reassignment, it is recommended that NGOs working in this field and transgender persons themselves are fully involved in this process.

[1] Civil Code, 18 July 2000, No. VIII-1864, Article 2.27(1), http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=493999

[2] Civil Code, 18 July 2000, No. VIII-1864, Article 2.27(2), http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=493999

[3] ECtHR judgment in the case of L. v Lithuania, application No. 27527/03, delivered on 11 September 2007, http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-82243

[4] Human Rights Monitoring Institute, "Human Rights in Lithuania 2011-2012: an Overview", 2013, p. 48-49, http://www.hrmi.lt/uploaded/Apzvalgos/Zmogaus%20teisiu%20igyvendinimas%20Lietuvoje%202011-2012_Apzvalga_ZTSI.pdf

[5] Government representative to the European Court of Human Rights, "Updated Information on the Implementation of the Judgment in L.v Lithuania", 18 April 2013, https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=2322499&SecMode=1&DocId=2022874&Usage=2 

[6] Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Lithuanian Gay Leagye, ILGA-Europe and Transgender Europe, "Joint Submission to the Committee of Ministers of the European Council in the case of L. v Lithuania", 10 December 2013, http://www.hrmi.lt/uploaded/Documents/288D7686.pdf

[7] EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, "Being Trans in the European Union: a Comparative Analysis of EU LGBT Survey Data, 2014, p. 25, http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2014-being-trans-eu-comparative_en.pdf

[8] Government representative to the European Court of Human Rights, "Updated Information on the Implementation of the Judgment in L. v Lithuania", 18 April 2013, p. 2, https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=2322499&SecMode=1&DocId=2022874&Usage=2  

[9] Draft Law on the Registration of Civil Status Documents, 23 June 2014, No. XIP-2017(3), Article 27, http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=475992

[10] Lithuanian Gay League, "Seimas Refuses to Consider Draft Law Allowing For Change of Gender at Law", 10 July 2014, http://www.lgl.lt/naujienos/seimas-nesutiko-svarstyti-istatymo-projekto-sudarancio-salygas-teisniam-lyties-keitimui/

[11] "Bills on Gender Reassignment and Partnership Returned for Correction", lrytas.lt, 7 October 2014, http://www.lrytas.lt/lietuvos-diena/aktualijos/grazino-taisyti-projektus-del-lyties-keitimo-partnerystes.htm

[12] Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, "Case No. 10", 1208th meeting, 25 September 2014, https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=CM/Del/OJ/DH%282014%291208/10&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&Site=CM&BackColorInternet=DBDCF2&BackColorIntranet=FDC864&BackColorLogged=FDC864