Baltic Backsliding?: Explaining Anti-LGBT Developments in Lithuania after EU Accession

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 356 (University of Glasgow)
Martijn Mos , University of Oxford
Since it joined the EU in 2004, Lithuania has attracted the ire of LGBT rights activists for a series of parliamentary proposals that supposedly set back the clock on human rights. Among others, Members of the Lithuanian Parliament, the Seimas, have adopted an amendment prohibiting the dissemination of public information concerning non-traditional families and sexualities; expressed support for imposing financial penalties for violations of this law; considered redefining the family so as to exclude same-sex couples; and debated prohibiting gender reassignment surgery. On the basis of an original discourse analysis of elite interviews, parliamentary debates and news articles, this paper seeks to explain these policymaking developments. On the face of it, they constitute a clear repudation of European values; Lithuanian politicians now feel free to discard those elements of the EU's package deal that they find unpalatable, but that they nonetheless had to abide by in order to obtain membership of the Union. I argue, however, that such blatant norm rejection only characterizes politicians from Eurosceptic parties. Party representatives who are in favor of EU membership use the ambiguity of European norms concerning LGBT people to put forward a more subtle position that carefully steers clear of anti-LGBT rhetoric. Instead, they depict themselves as the champions of traditional values that not only is consistent with the principles of non-discrimination and equal treatment, but that is truly European in nature. That is to say, they coopt rather than reject the language of European values in order to substantiate their views.
  • Mos, Baltic Backsliding [CES Draft].pdf (292.7 kB)