Seimas speaker calls president's move on Istanbul Convention "nice gesture"
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė's decision to put the Council of Europe's Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) before the country's parliament for ratification was "a nice gesture", Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis says, but does not promise his vote for it.
"It's a very modern step since Lithuania is hosting a convention of the world's women political leaders, and it's such a nice gesture on the part of the president," Pranckietis told journalists on Friday.
Asked on the prospect of the convention's ratification in the Seimas, he said the parliament had already discussed the convention and "until the concept of "social gender" is not explained, we probably won’t go very deep into it".
"This discussion is ongoing in the Seimas and we are not hiding anywhere from that Convention. But a convention is an agreement, and if it's agreement, we need to agree," the Lithuanian parliament speaker said.
Asked on how he personally planned to vote regarding the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, Pranckietis promised to vote "for all laws aimed at reducing domestic violence".
On Thursday, President Dalia Grybauskaitė decided to submit the Convention to the Lithuanian parliament for ratification before its deliberation by the Cabinet and also amid controversy caused by the document among Lithuanian politicians.
Grybauskaitė took the initiative during the Women Political Leaders Summit taking place in Vilnius. The president underlined that the Convention is aimed at fighting violence against women, does not change or expand the concept of gender but speaks about the social functions of genders.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius signed the Convention in 2013 but the Seimas has not ratified it so far.
The Convention is causing major debates in Lithuania due to the concept of "gender" and its Lithuanian translation, approved by the government chancellery, as "social gender".
Social Security and Labor Minister Linas Kukuraitis said earlier opinions on the Istanbul Convention differ so much that it would be difficult to reach a compromise any time soon.
The Council of Europe's experts say upon the Convention's ratification, Lithuania would benefit from valuable advice of specialists monitoring its implementation and other countries' good practice on combating domestic violence.
Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference and other critics say the Convention would make Lithuania change its gender concept and introduce unacceptable notions about homosexuality. Some conservative MPs believe the Convention would bring confusion to the legal system and undermine the implementation of the family policy.