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Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and physical abuse, including domestic violence. The law was effectively enforced. The penalty for rape, including spousal rape, is imprisonment for up to 15 years. According to the NGO Sexual Health Union, 13 percent of women had suffered sexual violence, including rape.

According to NGOs and shelter managers, violence against women, including domestic violence, was a problem. During the first six months of the year, physical abuse crimes dropped 5 percent, including domestic violence cases. Women constituted more than 80 percent of the victims of domestic violence registered by police. Police registered 3 percent fewer reports of domestic violence in 2020 than in the previous year. Of domestic violence crimes, 85 percent were physical abuse cases, 11 percent were threatening cases, 3 percent were sexual offenses, and less than 1 percent were murders or attempted murders.

NGOs, local governments, and others could seek assistance for survivors from the national government. There is a network of shelters for women and women with children who were victims of gender-based violence as well as hotlines for domestic violence and child abuse. There are four treatment centers for survivors of sexual violence. Police officers, border guards, and social workers received training related to domestic and gender violence from NGOs and the Ministries of Social Affairs, Interior, and Justice.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but there were reports of such harassment in the workplace and on public transport. By law, sexual harassment complaints may be resolved in court. The penalty for sexual harassment is a fine or detention for up to 30 days. In 2020 the number of sexual harassment cases did not materially change compared with the previous year; 97 percent of the victims in reported cases of sexual harassment were women. The number of registered stalking incidents in 2020 grew 11 percent compared to the previous year; 88 percent of reported stalking victims were women while 92 percent of alleged perpetrators were men.

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.

The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence. Emergency contraception was available as part of clinical management of rape.

Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women as for men, including under family, religious, personal status, and nationality laws as well as laws related to labor, property, inheritance, employment, access to credit, and owning or managing businesses or property. The government generally enforced such laws. There were reports of discrimination in employment and occupation and unequal treatment due to gender, age, disability, and sexual preference (see section 7.d.).

Discrimination is prohibited by the constitution. The law prohibits violence and discrimination against members of racial or ethnic minorities or minority groups. The government effectively enforced these prohibitions.

Human rights groups raised concern regarding the country’s hate crimes law, which requires a victim demonstrate that his or her life, health, or property were endangered to pursue charges. Observers noted that this high bar resulted in very few hate-crime charges. In addition, human rights NGOs noted that differentiations in antidiscrimination laws limited their effectiveness. Although gender discrimination and discrimination based on race or ethnicity are prohibited in employment, housing, health care, social welfare, education, goods and services, discrimination based on religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation is only prohibited for employment. For these other forms of discrimination there is no mechanism for affected individuals to receive state assistance or claim compensation.

Kristo Kivisto, who called for the establishment of an Estonian cell of the violent far-right Nordic Resistance Movement, was arrested for threats and defamation, including against young social democrats; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) events; and the EU. On social media, Kivisto, who was 21 at the time of his arrest, threatened to use violence and posted photos of far-right terrorists and mass murderers, including photos of Anders Behring Breivik and Brenton Tarrant, who committed mass shootings in Norway and New Zealand, respectively. In February the Parnu County Court sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment for threats and defamation of a foreign symbol (the EU flag). The discovery of prohibited objects in Kivisto’s home, including knives and grenades, added weight to the state’s case. In addition, in online conversations, Kivisto sought weapons and information on how manufacture them himself. In February the Parnu County Court sentenced him to six months’ probation for those charges.

In 2020 police registered two cases of physical abuse, breach of public order, or threats that included hatred against persons from racial, religious, or ethnic minority groups. Roma, who numbered fewer than 1,000 persons, reportedly faced discrimination in several areas, including employment. The government took steps to emphasize the importance of education for Romani children, but their school dropout rate remained high.

Nonwhite residents reported discrimination in housing. The government faced difficulties finding housing for resettled refugees, which refugee advocates attributed to societal discrimination

The government took steps to mitigate conditions that could contribute to racial or ethnic violence and discrimination. Under the Equal Treatment Act, the government established a commissioner for gender equality and equal treatment. In 2020 the Ministry of Social Affairs mounted a public-awareness campaign to promote understanding and solidarity between different social groups in the country. The “Settle in Estonia Program” is a free educational program provided by the government to help new immigrants better adapt to life in the country. In addition, the Police and Border Guard Board has a dedicated office to combating extremism, which, in concert with social support agencies, worked with minority and religious groups.

Birth Registration: Citizenship derives primarily from the citizenship of at least one parent. Either citizen parent may pass citizenship to a child regardless of the other parent’s citizenship status. Children born to parents who are not citizens of Estonia or of any other country and have lived in the country for five years acquire citizenship at birth. Registration of births occurred in a timely manner.

The government also provides citizenship, without any special application by the parents, to persons younger than 15 who were born in the country and whose parents were not citizens of Estonia or of any other country and had lived in the country for five years at the time of the birth of the child.

Child Abuse: In 2020 the number of sexual crimes committed against persons younger than 18 dropped by 15 percent from the previous year. The Police and Border Guard Board worked to combat child abuse, including sexual abuse. The legal chancellor acted as children’s ombudsman. Police provided training to officers on combatting sexual abuse in cooperation with the justice, education, and social ministries and local and international organizations.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18. A court may extend the legal capacity of a person who is at least 15 for the purpose of marriage.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and authorities enforced the law. The minimum age for consensual sex is 14. Conviction of engaging in child pornography carries punishment ranging from a fine to three years in prison. Girls were more frequently exploited than boys.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parent Child Abduction at

The Jewish community numbered an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 persons.

On April 2, individuals desecrated the site of the Holocaust Memorial in Rahumae Jewish Cemetery in Tallinn. Police identified the individuals involved and filed charges under the penal code’s section on desecration of graves.

In August unknown persons defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti a poster promoting vaccination. Local government officials denounced the incident, but as of October 1, no perpetrators had been identified or formal charges filed.

On January 27, the government held an annual memorial event on Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Rahumae Jewish Cemetery. Schools participated in commemorative activities throughout the country. The Education and Research Ministry, in cooperation with the country’s Jewish community, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the Estonian Memory Institute, and the Museum of Occupation, organized an essay-writing competition for schoolchildren on topics related to the lessons of the Holocaust.

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at

Persons with disabilities can access education, health services, public buildings, and transportation on an equal basis with others. The law provides that new or renovated buildings must be accessible to persons with disabilities. Few older buildings were accessible, but new or renovated ones generally were. Persons with disabilities may avail themselves of government assistance in accessing information and may request individual personal assistants when necessary. The government generally enforced these provisions.

According to the legal chancellor, measures to safeguard the fundamental rights of individuals in mental-health facilities remained inadequate, including protections against the use of unauthorized restraint measures in psychiatric care institutions. The legal chancellor also raised concerns regarding movement restrictions on residents of homes for persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 emergency.

NGOs complained that, while services typically were accessible in the capital, persons with disabilities in some rural areas had difficulty receiving appropriate care. For persons with disabilities outside of major population centers, access to local government social services (such as a personal assistant, support persons, and transportation) depended on that person’s own ability to seek assistance.

There were reports of discrimination against persons with disabilities in occupation or employment. Between 2015 and 2021, the share of employers who hired persons with disabilities rose from 29 percent to 33 percent. During the year the legal chancellor and the commissioner for gender equality and equal treatment received 36 claims of discrimination based on disability (also see section 7.d.).

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While the law is not specific regarding the forms of sexual orientation and gender identity covered, the general understanding is that it encompasses LGBTQI+ individuals. In 2020 police registered one case that included expression of hatred against LGBTQI+ persons. Advocacy groups reported that societal harassment and discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons remained common but noted improving public attitudes towards LGBTQI+ persons. A 2021 survey of citizens showed that more than half of the respondents considered same-sex sexual orientation completely or somewhat acceptable (53 percent), a 12-point increase since the same question was posed in 2019.


Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law specifically criminalizes rape regardless of gender. Spousal rape is explicitly considered rape with “aggravated circumstances.” Criminal penalties for rape range from four years’ to life imprisonment. The government effectively enforced the law.

When police receive a report of rape, they are required to open an investigation. Through September police initiated 53 criminal charges for rape against 27 individuals, of which 17 cases were sent to the prosecutor’s office. Because the Ministry of Justice does not distinguish between spousal rape and nonspousal rape cases, there were no reports available on whether any spousal rape case was prosecuted.

The law provides a broad definition of violence that includes physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence. Domestic and intimate-partner violence is criminalized and considered an aggravating factor in certain criminal offenses. There are penalties for causing even “minor” bodily harm when the survivor and perpetrator are spouses, former spouses, or civil partners. Penalties range from fines to imprisonment.

The law allows police to investigate domestic violence without a survivor’s prior approval and criminalizes stalking. The law allows survivors of domestic violence to request that police officers issue an order for the eviction of the perpetrator for eight days. Upon such a request, police must react immediately, on the spot if necessary. Only courts can issue restraining orders and must respond to such requests within one business day. Once a restraining order is issued, it remains in force until a court revokes it.

Domestic violence remained a serious problem and increased due to COVID-19. NGOs stated reports of domestic violence increased during the summer months, when the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. Another increase of reports took place after NGOs completed a domestic violence public awareness campaign in January, perhaps because of heightened public awareness. Through August police initiated 158 criminal proceedings for domestic violence and detained 57 persons. In the same period, police issued 364 restraining orders. NGOs stated that in some domestic violence cases, police and doctors were reluctant to act or arrest domestic partners. NGOs also stated police and doctors sometimes minimized the seriousness of the accusations when responding to reports of abuse. Domestic abuse complaints to police resulted in a slight rise in the rate of citations, although NGOs still viewed this as insufficient.

Police throughout the country are required to use standardized protocols to report and investigate gender-based violence, including domestic violence. Responding police officers are required to complete and send electronically an evaluation checklist to the social service of the relevant local government within one working day.

There was a government-run safe shelter designated specifically for battered and abused women in the Tukums municipality. The government provided state funding to shelters. There was one government-funded survivor support hotline and several NGO-managed crisis hotlines; none was dedicated exclusively to rape or assault reports. The government hotline referred survivors to an appropriate NGO for further support.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment was prosecuted under discrimination statutes. Penalties range from a reprimand to imprisonment. Victims have the right to submit complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman and the State Labor Inspectorate. During the year there was one complaint of sexual harassment.

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.

The law requires transgender persons to be sterilized before their gender identity is legally recognized.

The country’s cultural norms and concerns regarding potential violations of “virtue” laws limited consistent education in schools on sexual and reproductive health. The law obliges schools to provide students with a “moral education” that reinforces traditional (heterosexual) values regarding marriage and family life. As a result, many teachers avoided educating adolescents regarding reproductive health and contraception.

The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence. Emergency contraception was available as part of clinical management of rape.

Discrimination: The law provides for equal treatment of women. The government enforced its antidiscrimination laws effectively. There were instances of hiring and pay discrimination against women, particularly in the private sector (see section 7.d.).

The law provides for equal treatment and protection of racial and ethnic minorities against violence, discrimination, and hatred. The government enforced its antiviolence laws effectively.

NGOs representing minority groups stated that discrimination and harassment of national minorities, including what they considered hate speech, remained underreported to authorities. Through September the ombudsman did not receive any written complaints of racial discrimination, although he did receive five complaints of hate speech targeting certain ethnicities. ECRI in 2019 heard from NGOs, minority representatives, and the ombudsman that victims of hate speech often did not report incidents to police because they distrusted the willingness and ability of police to investigate these cases effectively.

In July the new minister of interior established a working group focused on addressing hate crimes.

The Romani community continued to face widespread societal discrimination, high levels of unemployment, and illiteracy. The government continued integration and awareness programs in support of Roma, although some community members expressed concern that the support was inconsistent. The Central Statistical Bureau reported that 4,838 Roma lived in the country.

Birth Registration: Citizenship derives from one’s parents. Only one parent must be a citizen to transmit nationality to a child. The law bestows automatic birthright citizenship to children of noncitizen residents. Children with noncitizen resident status are eligible for citizenship via naturalization.

Child Abuse: Violence against children was a problem. The law provides for protection of children against violence, exploitation, sexual abuse, involvement in commercial sexual exploitation, and serious threats to their life, health, or development, such as hazardous conditions. Violation of the law is punishable by imprisonment, community service, or a fine and supervised probation for a period of up to three years. The law empowers custody courts to remove vulnerable and abused children from violent homes if parents or guardians cannot do so or are themselves perpetrators of the violence. Police effectively enforced laws against child abuse.

The ombudsman received two complaints of violence against children in educational institutions and two complaints of violence against children in families. NGOs also reported a continuing overall problem with discipline and bullying in schools, citing an administrative culture of conflict avoidance as an aggravating factor.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18. Persons younger than 18 may legally marry only with parental permission and if one party is at least 16 and the other is at least 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the sale of children, offering or procuring a child for prostitution, and practices related to child pornography. Authorities generally enforced the law. Through September police initiated 93 criminal proceedings for the sexual exploitation of minors younger than 16. The purchase, display, reproduction, or distribution of child pornography is punishable by up to three years in prison. Involving a minor in the production of pornography is punishable by up to 12 years in prison, depending on the age of the child. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16.

Institutionalized Children: In the first eight months of the year, the State Inspectorate for Children’s Rights reported four cases of peer-on-peer emotional abuse in orphanages run by municipalities. The inspectorate and NGOs stated the number of incidents was likely higher but could not be confirmed because of difficulties in accountability, infrequent visits by social workers, and limited opportunities for observation.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at

Government sources estimated there were between 4,400 and 8,100 Jewish residents in the country. There were no reports of anti-Semitic attacks against individuals, although there were public references to stereotypes on the internet by some fringe groups. As of September the State Security Service initiated two criminal cases against individuals for anti-Semitic comments. The government provided financial support to Jewish history, religious, and cultural institutions.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, most of the annual commemoration of Latvian Legionnaires who fought in German Waffen SS units against the Soviet army in World War II was canceled. Organizers converted the annual memorial march into an all-day wreath-laying event. As in recent years, the event was sparsely attended, but at least one parliamentarian from the right-wing National Alliance party attended.

On July 4, President Egils Levits, Jewish community representatives, government officials, and foreign diplomats attended the Holocaust commemoration ceremony in Riga. The ceremony included a limited number of invitees due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions but was open to the public.

See the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at

The constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and mandate access to education, health services, and transportation for persons with disabilities, and the government generally enforced these provisions.

The law mandates access to public buildings for persons with disabilities. A regulation approved in October mandates greater accessibility for new and renovated public and private buildings, such as elevator accessibility and removed barriers to the installation of ramps. Nevertheless, NGOs stated that building accessibility continued to be low while the new regulation was implemented.

While health and labor services were provided as stipulated by law, NGOs stated that most persons with disabilities had limited access to work and health care due to a lack of personal assistants, the absence of specialized job education and training programs, the weak performance of the State Employment Agency, and a lack of government support for businesses employing persons with disabilities. The accessibility of health services worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased the burden on medical staff. Access to housing and mortgage loans remained limited.

Schools were generally able to accommodate the needs of children with physical disabilities. NGOs cited a lack of psychological support for students with mental disabilities. Several schools dedicated only to students with disabilities still existed, although children were increasingly integrated into the regular educational system.

Access to polling stations and information regarding election candidates and processes remained a problem for persons with disabilities.

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

NGOs stated that instances of violence and other abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity tended to be underreported, and that they observed a rise in online hate speech against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community during the COVID-19 pandemic. ECRI noted in 2019 that the government did not collect data regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and thus could not accurately assess the magnitude of the problem or need for specialized services. Through August the ombudsman received four complaints regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation.

NGOs reported widespread stigmatization of, intolerance of, and discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons. NGOs reported an improved relationship with the Ministry of Interior given the new focus on countering anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination following the ministry’s leadership change. They reported improvements in cooperation both with the ombudsman and the State Police since police established a specific point of contact within the department for NGOs seeking urgent assistance.

The law requires transgender persons to be sterilized before their gender identity is legally recognized.

The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Authorities generally enforced the law. NGOs expressed concern regarding the lack of explicit protection in the law against incitement to hatred and violence on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

On April 9, the Constitutional Court abolished the rule that requires a partner in a same-sex family to pay a higher state fee for the inheritance of their deceased partner’s estate than heterosexual spouses.

On December 10, the Supreme Court overturned an administrative court’s refusal of a same-sex couple’s application for “family” benefits and ordered a retrial to establish whether denying the couple familial status violated their rights under Article 110 of the constitution, which says that the state “shall protect and support…the family, the rights of the parents, and the rights of the child.” The ruling created a new possibility for same-sex partners to receive social services and economic benefits as a family through a court decision rather than by legislation.


Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape of women and men as well as domestic violence are criminal offenses. Penalties for domestic violence depend on the level of injury to the victim, ranging from required public service to life imprisonment. In the first eight months of the year, authorities received 61 reports of rape, compared with 63 during the same period in 2020. Convicted rapists generally received prison sentences of three to five years. No law specifically criminalizes spousal rape, and no data on spousal rape was available.

Although the law criminalizes domestic abuse, it remained a pervasive problem. In the first eight months of the year, police registered 4,206 criminal offenses related to domestic violence, compared with 7,126 in 2020. According to the Department of Statistics, 17 domestic violence-related femicides were registered in the first eight months of the year, compared with 28 in 2020 and 21 in 2019. The law permits rapid government action in domestic violence cases. For example, police and other law enforcement officials may, with court approval, require perpetrators to live separately from their survivors, to avoid all contact with them, and to surrender any weapons they may possess. According to the Department of Statistics, 80 percent of survivors of domestic violence were women. The government allocated 1.35 million euros ($1.55 million) to NGOs working in the field of domestic violence prevention.

According to a July 2020 survey by the Women’s Information Center, only 15 percent of those surveyed who had experienced domestic violence had contacted police. From April to September the Department of Statistics carried out a survey, which collected statistics on abuses of personal security at work, the prevalence and nature of domestic violence, and the provision of assistance to survivors.

The government operated a 24/7 national hotline and 29 crisis centers for survivors of domestic violence. In September 2020 the government adopted its Action Plan for Domestic Violence Prevention and Assistance to Victims for 2021 and allocated 1.17 million euros ($1.35 million) for the year.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment. The law defines sexual harassment as offensive verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, towards a person with whom they work, conduct business, or have other relations. Harassment is defined in the same law as unwanted conduct related to the sex of a person that occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, and creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive environment. Pretrial investigations of sexual harassment were relatively rare, and survivors were often blamed as the cause of the harassment.

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.

The country lacked consistent sex education programs, and there was a lack of publicly available information of contraception as a method of family planning. Contraception and medical advice were hard to access for many teenagers. According to the Human Rights Coalition, some young women and girls in rural areas, mostly Roma, had limited access to reproductive health services and contraceptives due to poverty, social stigma, and lack of parental consent.

According to the Department of Statistics, in 2020 girls younger than 18 gave birth to 109 children. According to the Lithuanian Society of Obstetricians, teenage pregnancy was closely linked to social marginalization, with many girls coming from vulnerable families. On September 7, the EOO determined that the procedure for reimbursing assisted reproduction was discriminatory because it was available only to women up to age 42, contrary to the Law on Equal Opportunities.

The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence. The Center for Combating Human Trafficking and Exploitation, which provides social, psychological, and legal services to survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and sexual abuse, noted that medical personnel conducting gynecological examinations often treated survivors in an accusatory or insensitive manner. The country had no rape crisis center, but a network of specialized NGOs provided social, psychological, health, and legal assistance to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. A national women’s helpline also assisted survivors.

Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, including family, religious, personal status, and nationality laws, as well as laws related to labor, property, inheritance, employment, access to credit, and owning or managing businesses or property. The government enforced the law effectively. Women continued to experience unequal access to pension benefits and the gender wage gap remained significant, leaving women more exposed to poverty risk (see section 7.d.).

The law prohibits discrimination against ethnic or national minorities, but intolerance and societal discrimination persisted. According to the 2011 census, approximately 14 percent of the population were members of minority ethnic groups, including Russians, Poles, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Karaites, and Jews.

Representatives of the Polish minority, approximately 200,000 persons according to the 2011 census, continued to raise their concerns concerning restrictions on the use of Polish letters in official documents, particularly passports, and the lack of a law on protecting national minorities’ rights.

Roma, whose population the 2011 census reported as 2,115 persons (0.07 percent of the country’s total population), continued to experience discrimination.

In August 2020, Vilnius Municipality approved a new Romani integration program for 2020-23. The plan offers new solutions to strengthen the areas of education, health care, social care, and culture, with a particular focus on integration programs. Romani families were offered individual and group consultations with psychologists, teachers, and social workers. According to the NGO Diversity Development Group, lockdowns related to COVID-19 severely affected the involvement of Romani children in education, because most of them lacked technical means to access online learning, especially at the beginning of the lockdown, and the government did not effectively organize assistance to them.

Birth Registration: Citizenship may be acquired either by birth in the country or through one’s parents. The government registered all births promptly.

Child Abuse: The law bans all violence against children. Sexual abuse of children remained a problem despite prison sentences of up to 13 years for the crime. In the first eight months of the year, the Ministry of the Interior recorded 33 cases of child rape and 175 cases involving other forms of child sexual abuse. The government operated a children’s support center to provide medical and psychological care for children, including those who suffered from various types of violence. It also operated a national center in Vilnius to provide legal, psychological, and medical assistance to sexually abused children and their families.

The Child Rights Protection Service reported that in the first half of the year 1,370 cases of possible violence against children were recorded. There were 2,841 total such cases in 2020.

In the first eight months of the year, the children’s rights ombudsperson reported receiving 216 complaints.

During the first eight months of the year, Child Line (a hotline for children and youth) received 99,888 telephone calls from children and responded to 71,788 of those calls. Child Line also received and answered 292 letters from children, whose concerns ranged from relations with their parents and friends to family violence and sexual abuse.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Individuals involving a child in pornographic events or using a child in the production of pornographic material are subject to imprisonment for up to five years (see also section 2.a., Freedom of Expression, Including for Members of the Press and Other Media). Persons who offer to purchase, acquire, sell, transport, or hold a child in captivity are subject to imprisonment for three to 12 years. The Office of the Ombudsperson for Children’s Rights reported receiving two complaints of alleged sexual exploitation of children during the first eight months of the year. According to the Ministry of the Interior, during the first eight months of the year, officials registered 124 criminal cases involving child pornography. The age of consent is 16.

Institutionalized Children: According to experts from the Human Rights Monitoring Institute and other NGOs, deinstitutionalization of childcare was slow, and 1,533 children were still in state care institutions. As of September 1, the children’s rights ombudsperson had opened two investigations regarding abuses of children’s rights in orphanages and large-family foster homes.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at

The Jewish community consisted of approximately 4,000 persons. There were reports of anti-Semitism on the internet and in public.

On January 27 (International Holocaust Remembrance Day), member of parliament and then chair of the Parliamentary Commission for the Cause of Freedom and National Historical Memory Valdas Rakutis authored an article published by media outlets which stated, “After all, there was no shortage of Holocaust perpetrators among the Jews themselves, especially in the ghetto self-government structures.” Rakutis’s article drew criticism from the prime minister, the foreign minister, and the Jewish community. On January 29, Rakutis stepped down as chair of the parliamentary commission but did not apologize or withdraw his remarks. On February 22, Vilnius prosecutors announced that they had declined to open a pretrial investigation into Rakutis’s comments on the Holocaust, stating his article did not violate the laws on genocide denial.

On April 15, parliament appointed Arunas Bubnys as director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania (GRRCL), despite the June 2020 publication by the website of an article with Bubnys photographed delivering a speech at a rally in front of photographs of Nazi collaborators Jonas Noreika and Kazys Skirpa. At the time of the appointment, Bubnys was head of the GRRCL’s Department of Historical Research. In October 2020, during his tenure as head of the department, Bubnys ran for parliament as a candidate of the National Union Party (NUP), a far-right nationalist political party. He was not elected, and in April he announced that he had left the NUP. In an interview with the news portal on May 4, Bubnys spoke regarding Jonas Noreika, admitting that “there were both positive and, let’s say, negative things in his activities.”

The municipal government of Ukmerge district continued to resist calls for the removal of a monument to former partisan Juozas Krikstaponis, who, based on the conclusion of the GRRCL, took part in the killing of Jews in Belarus in 1941. In a letter to the mayor of Ukmerge in May, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis suggested that the monument be relocated to the outskirts of the city.

On September 8, employees of a nearby German law firm found and erased a swastika drawn on a sign marking the old Jewish cemetery of Snipiskes. Representatives of the Jewish Community of Lithuania reported that unknown persons redrew it a few days later. On September 9, workers caring for the Jewish cemetery on Radivilenu Road in Kaunas reported vandalism at the cemetery, including at least three grave sites that had been dug up, likely by thieves searching for valuables.

On September 10, a sign listing information regarding a site in Kretinga where Jews were killed during the Holocaust was vandalized. Police started a pretrial investigation. Police had instructions to take measures to deter illegal activities, including vandalism, with special attention to maintaining order on specific historical dates and certain religious or cultural holidays.

On November 1, it was reported that vandals dismantled a Jewish monument and destroyed its foundation at Kedainiai, where 1,125 Jews were massacred during the Holocaust.

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. There was no proactive enforcement of these requirements. The equal opportunities ombudsperson received 32 complaints of alleged discrimination based on disability and found violations in seven cases. In its most recent report from 2019, the National Audit Office reported that nearly one-third of persons with disabilities were at risk of poverty, a higher percentage than the overall at-risk-of-poverty rate (20.6 percent). The audit found that only 13 percent of the persons identified as needing assistance received special services in municipalities. In 32 municipalities, local governments did not arrange, as required by law, that at least 30 percent of public buildings providing social, educational, health, and cultural services were adapted to persons with disabilities. In 34 municipalities, no means of public transport were available for persons with disabilities. In 2019 only 3.4 percent of municipal websites were adapted for persons with disabilities.

The law requires all schools that provide compulsory and universally accessible education accommodate students with disabilities. The country has a tradition of separate schools for children with various disabilities. In June 2020 parliament amended the Law on Education to eliminate discriminatory provisions regarding children with disabilities who need accommodation or educational support. According to these provisions, which were scheduled to be implemented gradually and fully enter into force on September 1, 2024, children with disabilities who need accommodation or educational support would be able to attend a general education school in their place of residence, and schools would no longer be able to refuse to admit them and refer them to separate so-called special schools.

The law prohibits persons with disabilities who have been deprived of their legal capacity from voting or standing for election. According to the Central Electoral Commission, 67 percent of polling stations were accessible to persons with disabilities in the October 2020 parliamentary elections.

Considering the recommendations of the parliamentary ombudsperson, on March 3, the minister of health determined that the Ministry of Health would allow involuntarily hospitalized persons with mental or behavioral disorders to receive an independent mental health assessment.

According to the NGO the Lithuanian Forum for Persons with Disabilities (LFPD), deinstitutionalization has been slow in the country, with too little attention paid and inadequate funding devoted to the creation of independent living arrangements for individuals with disabilities.

According to the LFPD, a small number of persons with disabilities sought help in cases of domestic violence. The LFPD suspected that persons with disabilities did not have information concerning state-provided aid available for survivors of domestic abuse.

Those living in closed social care institutions and admitted to or involuntarily hospitalized in psychiatric hospitals were among the most seriously affected during the pandemic. After assessing the risks of human rights abuses during the quarantine as well as considering calls from residents and their relatives, the staff of the parliamentary ombudsperson office provided consultations to residents of social care institutions on the topics of ensuring human rights and freedoms and a sense of security during the quarantine.

The I Can Live NGO coalition worked with drug addicts and other vulnerable groups and noted that individuals with HIV and AIDS continued to be subject to discrimination, including in employment, and were treated with fear and aversion. According to the People Living with HIV Stigma Index conducted by the NGO coalition in 2018, 90 percent of persons with HIV feared revealing their status to others, and 83 percent were not aware of laws protecting them from discrimination. Of those who believed discrimination occurred, 67 percent reported being intimidated from taking action.

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and sexual orientation may be an aggravating factor in crimes against LGBTQI+ persons. However, it states that any information that “encourages a concept of marriage and family other than the one stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania or in the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania” is detrimental to minors and should be restricted. According to Amnesty International, this law violates the freedom of self-expression of LGBTQI+ persons. Gender identity remains unrecognized in the law. Societal attitudes toward LGBTQI+ persons remained largely negative, and LGBTQI+ persons experienced stigma, discrimination, and violence. A 2019 poll by the Baltijos Tyrimai market and public opinion research company noted that one-third of citizens viewed LGBTQI+ individuals as undesirable neighbors. Transgender persons were vulnerable and regularly experienced extreme violence and death threats, and legal barriers and discriminatory practices often inhibited them from receiving health care. Most LGBTQI+ persons who experienced violent acts did not report them due to a lack of trust in the legal system. During the first-ever pride march in the city of Kaunas on September 4, eggs and potatoes were thrown at participants by protesters, who also shouted obscenities during the event.

On December 31, Minister of Justice Evelina Dobrovolska signed an order allowing transgender persons to change their names and ending the requirement to provide medical proof of gender reassignment. The order was scheduled to take effect on February 2, 2022.

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