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The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2013 and is a summary of the country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well. 

Gediminas Andriukaitis

Country Context

Lithuania regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. The present Constitution was approved by referendum in 1992. On 1May 2004 Lithuania joined the EU, meaning that significant changes to the legal system had taken place in little over a decade to meet EU and international standards. It must be mentioned that in most cases legal changes were not widely discussed, and society was not sufficiently prepared for new equality standards.

Main principles and definitions

Currently the Law on Equal Treatment in most cases repeats the wording of the Directives, without going into details of particular provisions, hence most concepts still require judicial interpretation. Both natural and legal persons are protected from discrimination. Besides the prohibition of direct and indirect discrimination, discrimination by association, harassment, instructions to discriminate and victimisation are also considered illegal. However, some definitions still lack clarity.

Enforcing the law

No special judicial, administrative or conciliation procedures for cases of discrimination exist at national level.  Mediation in discrimination disputes is also not covered by national law. The Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson sometimes acts as a mediator in practice, but this procedure is not formalised and does not provide the victim with compensation.

Main legislation

The principle of equality is outlined in the Constitution. Although age, disability and sexual orientation are not explicitly mentioned in the constitutional equality clause, the Constitution could presumably be interpreted in such a way as to protect against discrimination on these grounds (jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court on equality remains rather scarce). The general principle of equality is repeated in various national legal enactments, including the Labour Code, Civil Code, Criminal Code and other laws. However, non-discrimination cases only recently started to appear in courts.

Material scope

National anti-discrimination law is applied in both the public and private sectors. It should be applied in employment, education, and access to goods and services on all grounds covered by the Directives. In addition, national anti-discrimination law also provides protection against discrimination on the grounds of social status, language and convictions.

Equality bodies

The Equal Opportunities Ombudspersonis the national anti-discrimination body, founded in order to fulfil the requirements of the Racial Equality Directive. When the Law on Equal Treatment came in force in 2005 it expanded the mandate of the previous Ombudsperson for Equal Opportunities for Men and Women (in operation since 1999). Hence a new institution – the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson – covering all grounds of discrimination in Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC and the ground of gender started working from 1 January 2005. The Ombudsperson monitors the implementation of the Law on Equal Treatment in the manner prescribed by theLaw on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.It is the main national institution dealing with equality and non-discrimination.

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