The Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) has voted to consider two alternative draft laws on partnerships, with the former being on civil unions and the latter on “close relationships.”
The draft Law on Civil Union passed the first reading in the parliament on Thursday, with 70 votes in favor, 49 against and six abstentions. The bill seeks to regulate the rights of unmarried couples and their obligations towards each other. The law would replace the definition of a partnership in the Family Book of the Civil Code with that of a civil union, and require such unions to be registered with a notary.
The bill defines a civil union as a “voluntary agreement between two persons (partners) registered in accordance with the procedure established by law, by which they seek to establish and/or develop a personal relationship with each other.” The law would regulate the personal and property relations between unmarried couples, including “the legal regime of the partners’ property, the right of inheritance, the right of representation and acting on behalf of another partner.”
Member of Parliament Jurgita Sejonienė, while presenting the bill, stated that it was “a long-lasting state debt for unmarried persons.” She further said, “It is necessary to take into account the interests of the group of the society, which for one reason or another does not form a marriage, but leads a common life connected with social, spiritual and moral aspects. It is necessary to solve the practical issues of such a life.”
Draft amendments to the Civil Code were also approved that aim to “regulate the recognition of a person’s right to close relations.” The amendments passed the first reading with 70 votes in favor, 23 against and 30 abstentions. Deputy Speaker of the Seimas Paulius Saudargas presented the alternative draft, emphasizing that unlike the civil union law, the amendments would draw a clear distinction between unmarried couples and family relations.
We recognize that personal relationships, not just property relationships, between people living together must be protected, which is why we propose to legally recognize close relationships. The bill on close relationship does not create a family relationship, while a civil union gives an impression of creating a family relationship.
Last year the parliament voted down the bill on civil partnerships that would have defined a partnership as an “emotional connection” and provided the right to take the surname of one’s partner or adopt their children. Several previous attempts to legalize civil unions did not move past early stages of the parliamentary process.
Following debate by parliamentary committees, the draft laws are expected to return to the full parliament for plenary debate on June 21, though the civil union law is not expected to pass in the Catholic-majority country.