Association

The Lithuanian Constitution guarantees the rights of citizens to freely form societies, political parties, and associations, “provided that the aims and activities thereof do not contradict the Constitution and laws”. The laws governing NGOs are enabling, although the Communist Party and other organisations associated with the former Soviet Union remain banned. In practice, civil society organisations are not unduly difficult to register in Lithuania and their administrative burden is adequate. The state does not attempt to undermine the advocacy of independent civil society or reduce the space for their advocacy. NGOs supporting unpopular minority groups are not targeted either overtly, or covertly. The right to form and join trade unions, strike, and engage in collective bargaining is generally respected. Lithuania has been commended for providing special tax privileges to associations. Lithuanian law also explicitly protects the right of individuals and organisations to have a say in the making of laws. Despite these incentives, Lithuanian civil society still reports low levels of civic activism, and that many people choose not to engage civically because of fears of ‘losing a job, being publically harassed, slandered…or even receiving death threats.’ Although transgender persons are not legally recognised, Lithuania’s parliament is reviewing all legislation restricting the rights of LGBTI persons. Despite the potential improvement in laws protecting the LGBTI community, groups continue to report hate speech in the media against them.