Trans people in Lithuania will finally be allowed to change their legal name without undergoing gender-reassignment surgery.
Justice minister Evelina Dobrovolska signed the order permitting legal name changes on 31 December.
However, trans people who wish to change their name on official documents will still have to obtain a certificate from a Lithuanian or EU healthcare establishment of “diagnosed transgenderism”.
The new regulation comes into force on 2 February and will be “an important step that will help Lithuania to ensure partial implementation of the ruling the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued more than a decade ago, as well as the consolidation of human rights standards”, the justice ministry said, according to Lithuanian news outlet Delfi.
Trans rights in Lithuania
In 2007, a 28-year-old trans man won his case against Lithuania in the ECHRover the state’s failure to provide him with legal documents in his correct gender.
The seven judges ruled that Lithuania had to implement new legislation on gender reassignment within three months or pay damages.
During the 2007 case, the Court observed that Lithuanian law had recognised trans people’s right to change not only their gender but also their civil status. However, there was a gap in the relevant legislation: the law regulating gender-reassignment surgery, although drafted, had yet to be adopted.
In the meantime, no suitable medical facilities were reasonably accessible in Lithuania.
Lithuania yet to introduce marriage equality
Under EU law all member states must “facilitate” LGBT+ citizens, meaning they must be kept free from discrimination.
Homosexuality was only decriminalised in the majority-Catholic country in 1993, and the constitution still defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Gitanas Nausėda, president of Lithuania, has been vocal about his belief in what he calls traditional family values.
He has rallied against what he termed “genderist propaganda” and has said that marriage is between a man and a woman.
“As a president of the Lithuanian Republic, I will use my powers to make sure it is so,” he said at a rally in May 2021, as citizens protested against draft legislation that would permit same-sex civil unions.