Lithuania Ponders Istanbul Convention’s Compatibility With Its Constitution
Lithuania’s Parliamentary Move
In a significant development, the parliament of Lithuania, known as the Seimas, has voted to consider the compatibility of the Istanbul Convention with the country’s constitution. The referral of the matter to the Constitutional Court is an initial step, with the final vote on the referral scheduled to take place shortly. The main point of contention revolves around the terms “social aspect of gender”, “social gender”, “non-stereotypical roles based on the social aspect of gender”, and “non-stereotyped gender roles” detailed in the Istanbul Convention.
The Istanbul Convention: A Brief Overview
The Istanbul Convention is a document from the Council of Europe, which aims to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Lithuania signed the convention in 2013 but has not yet ratified it due to political disagreements over specific provisions. One of the main disputes over the Istanbul Convention in Lithuania involves its potential impact on the country’s concept of gender and attitudes towards homosexuality. While experts from the Council of Europe argue that Lithuania could benefit from the convention’s recommendations on curbing domestic violence, opposition from the Catholic Church and some politicians has stalled the ratification process.
Implications for Lithuania’s Gender Concept
Stakeholders have expressed concerns that the Istanbul Convention may require Lithuania to adjust its understanding of gender and adopt attitudes towards homosexuality that they deem unacceptable. These conservative groups maintain that the document introduces non-binary notions of gender, which could potentially run counter to Lithuania’s constitution.
Constitutional Inquiry into the Istanbul Convention
The constitutional inquiry would aim to determine whether the Istanbul Convention’s norms on social gender perspectives, gender-based violence against women, and the inclusion of non-stereotypical gender roles in the education curriculum align with the Lithuanian constitution. Lithuania’s parliament speaker has stated that both supporters and opponents of the Convention wish to seek clarification from the Constitutional Court on these issues.
Lithuania signed the Istanbul Convention on June 7, 2013, but its ratification has been stalled due to political disagreements on some of the document’s provisions. Despite potential benefits from recommendations on curbing domestic violence, the Catholic Church and some politicians argue that the Convention may require Lithuania to change its concept of gender and introduce attitudes towards homosexuality that they consider unacceptable.
Similar Disputes in Other Nations
The Istanbul Convention has faced significant backlash in several countries, driven by the global anti-feminist movement and calls for the protection of traditional family values. The dissatisfaction of many states, including Bulgaria, Armenia, Ukraine, and others, is related to the perceived excessiveness of rights given to LGBTQ persons in the Istanbul Convention. This has led to political campaigning against the Convention in Eastern Europe, and the protection against domestic violence under the Convention raises normative, conceptual, and substantive challenges in states entrenching the ideology of traditional family values in law.
As the Seimas is scheduled to vote on the referral of this matter to the Constitutional Court, the future of the Istanbul Convention in Lithuania remains uncertain. The decision will undoubtedly have significant implications for the country’s legal and social landscape, particularly concerning gender and LGBTQ rights. Regardless of the outcome, this development underscores the ongoing global debate over the intersection of gender rights, traditional values, and national laws.
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