Poll claims only 4% of Lithuanians support same-sex civil unions

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A poll by Lithuanian market research company RIAT claims only 4% of the country supports the introduction of civil partnerships for gay couples.

The Baltic News Agency-commissioned poll says 70% of the population is in favour of some form of legal recognition for relationships outside marriage, but not for gays.

Same-sex marriages are currently banned under the Constitution and the Civil Code, and while civil partnerships are permitted to be introduced by the legislature, the Code states they may only be between a man and a woman.

While 70% of respondents supported straight civil unions and 4% supported straight and gay unions, the remaining quarter did not approve of any non-marriage partnership being recognised by the state.

Figures for public support of gay marriages rather than civil partnerships were not immediately available.

A poll by the European Commission across all member states in 2006 showed 17% of Lithuanians then were in support of civil unions that would give gay couples the same rights as straight married couples.

In 2009, Lithuania’s Delfi newspaper reported 42% of those they polled supported civil partnerships for gay couples.

The 2011 poll said more support was to be found among younger people, people with higher incomes and people who have spent longer in education, but its overall findings of support are still markedly lower than the polls undertaken in previous years.

The Lithuanian Gay League drew attention to a 2011 poll by GfK Custom Research Baltic, which found 56% of respondents were unwilling to live next door to gays. A third said they would not object.

72% of the respondents said they would not be comfortable living next door to someone with AIDS.

A draft law has been tabled at the Lithuanian parliament which would introduce civil partnerships for straight couples, with many similar rules on property to those which apply to marriages.

The country’s Justice Minister reportedly said gay couples could protect their property interests by drawing up a contract when they begin cohabiting and as such do not require additional protections.

1003 Lithuanians aged between 15 and 74 were polled in November for the RIAT research.