Members of the Lithuanian parliament have rejected a bill outlawing gender-based harassment, as required by the European Union.
Seimas of Lithuania
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

The Seimas on Tuesday rejected the proposed amendments to the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men by a vote of 34 to five with 34 abstentions and sent the draft back for improvement.

The government has been trying to put a provision that prohibits not only sexual harassment, but also harassment based on gender in the workplace back into the law. Such a ban was in place until 2014.

According to the government, Lithuania has until May 21, 2016, to transpose the EU's standards into national legislation.

Conservative party member Rimantas Dagys said he could not vote for the law as-is because it did not have a clear definition of what harassment was.

Petras Gražulis, head of the Order and Justice group in the Seimas, said that Europe "sees human rights, persecution, abuse and the like everywhere. Women's rights must even be respected in the retail and service sectors. I cannot understand it - how can someone's rights can be violated in the retail and service sectors?" He also said "It's not very nice when I see women driving combines or working with bulldozers or tractors. She is a fragile creature, she must have a job according to her sex and physical preparation."

Zita Žvikienė, the chairwoman of the Seimas' Committee on Human Rights, pointed out that such a law was already included in Lithuania's equal opportunity laws, so she could not understand some MPs' stubbornness with passing the law in the women's and men's equal opportunity law as well.

BNS
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