Last week, the Lithuanian parliament rejected a bill that would have introduced civil partnership of opposite-sex couples. Conservative MP, who voted against the legislation, says it would have been a step towards legalizing same-sex partnership which, she insists, must be put to a referendum.
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The partnership bill, drafted by the Ministry of Justice, was rejected largely because of opposition from the conservative Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats. Conservative MP Vilija Aleknaitė-Abramikienė tells the Žinių Radijas radio why she opposed the bill:

"We must not legalize civil partnership, because there are certain dangers there. I would have spoken differently 15 years ago, because in 1998-1999 there were no attempts in Europe to legalize cohabitation of same-sex partners, essentially equating it to family and marriage.

"Many states voluntarily, without being forced, have legalized same-sex partnership, some even marriage. But now the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is pressuring those countries that have legalized opposite-sex partnership to accept same-sex partnership, too. Therefore it would be wrong to claim that we only want to help those guys and girls who live together, because we would have to automatically extend that right to gays and lesbians.

"So we need to look for other ways to secure those people's [opposite-sex couples] rights. We must state unambiguously that if we legalize partnership between a man and a woman, this will automatically mean we're legalizing same-sex partnership, too. We are in a legal situation where we should put this question to a referendum, because we do not have the right to make the decision for the nation," Aleknaitė-Abramikienė says.

Meanwhile social democratic MP Giedrė Purvaneckienė claims that Lithuania needs a partnership law and it would be right to allow same-sex couples to benefit from it, too.

She has co-signed an alternative partnership bill, which has not yet made its way to a parliament vote, which opens up the institution to all.

"I don't see any danger here," Purvaneckienė told the Žinių Radijas. "Some years from now, people in Lithuania will no longer be astonished by same-sex partnership. So far, however, we are talking about partnership between a man and a woman. Although the bill was drafted by the social democratic Justice Minister Juozas Bernatonis, I think it has flaws, since although it eliminates certain basis for discrimination, it introduces new ones.

"Still, public opinion survey and research results show that the society need such a bill," Purvaneckienė says, adding that, according to one poll, 84 percent of Lithuanians support partnership for opposite-sex couples.

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