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Lithuania's top court orders recognition of same-sex gay spouses

The migration department said it would change the practice and start issuing permits for same-sex spouses.

The rainbow flag, a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Picture: Pixabay.com

WARSAW - Lithuania's top court ruled on Friday that the Baltic EU state must grant residence permits to foreign spouses of gay citizens even though same-sex unions are not recognised by law.

In a landmark ruling for gay rights, the constitutional court ruled that the routine denial of residency permits for the spouses of gay citizens who had got married abroad was discriminatory and a breach of human dignity.

"The refusal to issue permits cannot be based only on gender identity or sexual orientation," it said.

Vladimir Simonko, head of the Lithuanian Gay League, hailed it as "a progressive ruling that sends an important message to our LGBT community and politicians.

"I hope it will lead towards more positive attitude towards gay families," Simonko told AFP.

The migration department said it would change the practice and start issuing permits for same-sex spouses.

Lithuania's constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The heavily Catholic nation of 2.8 million people denies legal recognition to same-sex partnerships.

Over two dozen countries worldwide have enacted legislation to allow same-sex union, with the majority of them being in western Europe, according to the Pew Research Centre.

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