Part of Istanbul convention inconsistent with Lithuania's LFGU program – Seimas speaker
The Istanbul convention on combating violence against women will not be submitted to the Lithuanian parliament for ratification during the spring session, as part of the document is inconsistent with the program of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis said.
During the Saturday's discussion of the tasks for the spring session, Eugenijus Gentvilas, the leader of the opposition Liberal Movement, asked the parliamentary speaker about reasons behind failure to include the ratification of the Istanbul document into the agenda.
"A convention is an agreement, not a mandatory directive. The other thing is that the Istanbul convention includes two matters, and one of them is inconsistent with the program of the Farmers and Greens Union, therefore, the discussion was not actualized," said Pranckietis.
Gentvilas asked him again whether he understood correctly and the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union was halting the endorsement of the convention, and Pranckietis replied: "We are not encouraging discussion of the bill."
Meanwhile, the parliamentary speaker's position before the 2016 elections was the opposite – in August of 2016, he together with incumbent Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis and MP Dovilė Šakalienė visited a charitable and support fund Frida where he took a picture holding a slogan: I and FRIDA in support of human rights! Let's ratify the Istanbul Convention. The picture was published on the fund's Facebook page.
Postponement of the discussion of the so-called Istanbul convention was proposed by the LFGU-led Social Security and Labor Ministry until the country has failed to reach compromise on the concept of gender.
Social Security and Labor Minister Linas Kukuraitis said the the concept of social gender was the only thing seen as an obstacle in the document.
"The question is whether our society is ready, for instance, to integrate non-stereotyped gender education issues in our education system – are parent communities ready, etc. This is indeed a question for the whole society, the discussions should not be held on only the political level to simply go and ratify, we should also include the public. As far as we tried to do this, it seems that the opposition was too big at the time," said the minister.
He suggested to see how other countries enforce it, as the convention is a rather new document.
On the other hand, Kukuraitis emphasized that provisions of the convention about efforts against violence would be implemented without the ratification of the document.
Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius told BNS on Saturday, the first day of the spring session, he was ready to go to the LFGU group to explain the need of the endorsement of the Istanbul convention.
"I have volunteered to go to the Farmers and Greens Union group, maybe they'll invite me. I have read their program, and if I'm not mistaken, they do not object reflecting some provisions – they probably mean the interpretation of the gender concept – in the legal base. By the way, I told the parliamentary speaker today that there were no plans to do this. Nobody wants to change the law in this respect," said Linkevicius.
In his words, the legal base should be improved because of domestic violence.
The convention triggered heated discussions in Lithuania due to definition of gender.
The foreign minister signed the Council of Europe's convention on prevention of violence against women and domestic violence in 2013, however, the country's parliament has not yet ratified it.
The Lithuanian Conference of Bishops and other critics say that the convention might cause Lithuania to revise the concept of gender and introduce unacceptable provisions on homosexuality.
Some MPs of conservative beliefs say the convention would bring turmoil to the legislative framework and thus affect implementation of family policies.