The court ruled that denying foreign spouses residence permits was discriminatory and against human dignity.
Lithuania’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, has ruled that foreign spouses of same-sex couples need to be given residence permits. In their ruling, the court said: “The refusal to issue permits cannot be based only on gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Following the court’s ruling, the migration department of Lithuania confirmed that its policy would change, and that permits to foreign spouses of same-sex couples would be handed out.
However, as same-sex marriage is not recognised in Lithuania, it is one of six countries in the European Union where marriage is still constitutionally just between a man and a woman, it is unclear how the state will recognise the couples.
Nevertheless, LBTQ activists in the country have hailed the ruling as a victory. AFP reports that Vladimir Simonko ruled it as “a progressive ruling that sends an important message to our LGBT community and politicians.
“I hope it will lead towards more positive attitude towards gay families.”
However, the ruling was criticised by the country’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference. In a statement, they said: “The postulate that the family concept is gender-neutral is not in line with the teachings of the Church.
“Marriage is the basis of the family and it is concluded upon the free mutual consent of a man and woman.”
Lithuania has a mixed record when it comes to LGBTQ rights. Last year, the country’s parliament voted against legally recognising same-sex couples, however they did accept refugees fleeing from Chechnya after the region instigated a ‘gay purge’.