Half of Lithuania's parliamentarians have proposed a bill on spelling of first and last names that would allow the use of non-Lithuanian letters of the Latin alphabet in personal documents.
Polish girl with Lithuania's national flag
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

According to the bill, original spelling of last names in Latin characters would be possible "if the first or the last name with these letters are stated in the source of the document and if the source of the document proves that the person or his ancestors have held citizenship of a foreign country by direct blood line or have entered into marriage with a foreigner and took his name."

Initiated by the opposition conservatives, the bill was proposed by 70 of Lithuania's 141 parliamentarians, including the party's leader Gabrielius Landsbergis, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis delegated by the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union along with about 20 members of the conservatives and LFGU each, as well as Liberals and Social Democrats.

The conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats behind the bill said that the amendments would "allow spelling first and last names with Latin characters, including q, w and x in exceptional cases in personal and other documents, just as the case is in many European countries, except for Lithuania and Latvia, with languages of the Latin alphabet."

Current laws in effect in Lithuania only allow Lithuanian letters in the spelling of names of Lithuanian citizens in documents. Lithuania's courts have handed down a few rulings, instructing migration authorities to spell names in non-Lithuanian letters in passports and personal identity cards, however, the authorities refuse to do so, citing prevalence of the law over court rulings.

The issue of name spelling is often raised by Poles living in Lithuania and Warsaw politicians. Supporters of the original spelling scheme say it would be crucial for Lithuanian females married to foreigners, while critics maintain this would undermine the Constitutional status of the official Lithuanian language and might make it difficult to read the non-Lithuanian names.

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