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  • October 2022

On 29 September 2022, the Parliament of Lithuania (Seimas)did not approve the draft resolution on granting state recognition to the Ancient Baltic religious community Romuva. Despite this voting result, this draft resolution still has a chance in the Seimas, as the parliamentarians did not reject it, but returned it to the initiators, which is the Committee for Human Rights for improvement. The resolution regarding the recognition of Romuva has been re-registered for October. At the same time, amendments to the Law on Religious Communities and Associations are being prepared. As the result of adopting these amendments, Seimas will be obliged to adopt a resolution regarding the recognition of Romuva, and in case of disapproval, to indicate the reasons.
The case of Romuva reveals the difficulties of religious minorities in seeking the state recognized status in Lithuania.

Romuva gained recognition as a “non-traditional” religion in 1995, when the Law on Religious Communities and Associations was passed in Lithuania. Once a religion is registered for 25-years, provided it has good standing in society, it can be state recognised, as well as receive financial support from the State. Romuvaʼs march towards legal recognition in Lithuania has been long and disputed, and it is still not over yet.

On 27 June 2019, Seimas decided not to grant the status of state-recognized religion to the Romuva. Recognition as a "traditional religion" was rejected by the authorities, who argued that uninterrupted continuity with the pre-Christian religion could not be proven.

Romuva prepared a case for the European Court of Human rights. The case was won. In Romuva vs Lithuania, the court ruled in favour of the Old Baltic Faith community, and said that Seimas had violated Article 9 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ; Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion.

Moreover, the Constitutional Court decided that the provision of the law under which religious associations may apply for state recognition following a period of 25 years from the date of their initial registration is not in conflict with the Constitution.

The question was raised again in the end of 2021, when the project regarding granting the status of state recognized religion for Romuva has been registered. In April 2022, discussion in the context of freedom of thought, conscience and religion "Legal and historical aspects of granting state recognition to religious communities" was held in Seimas. On 29 September 2022, the most recent Seimas voting has still not brought a final decision regarding the state recognition of Romuva.
After the recent vote, Romuva announced that it has turned to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, requesting to start enhanced supervision of the implementation of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

D 25 octobre 2022    ARasa Pranskevičiūtė-Amoson

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