VILNIUS Lithuania has paid 40,000 euros ($63,140) for a citizen to undergo a full sex change operation abroad because the government missed a July 1 deadline, set by a European court, to adopt a domestic gender reassignment law.
Last year the individual, who was born female in 1978, won a case against Lithuania in the European Court of Human Rights. The court ruled the predominantly Catholic country had to enact a gender reassignment law, or pay 40,000 euros to enable surgery to take place abroad.
"The whole sum has been already transferred, as no law was adopted," Justice Ministry's spokesman said.
The government drafted a law to allow gender reassignment surgery in Lithuania and presented it to parliament in 2003, but the bill has not yet been passed.
"There is a lack of political will to take an action on the issue, and I do not know when there will be some," Elvyra Baltutyte, Lithuania's representative at the European Human Rights Court told Reuters.
"I would expect more applications from Lithuania to follow, though I am not aware of any yet," Baltutyte said.
Lithuania has previously been criticized by international human rights organizations for not respecting rights of sexual minorities.
Last year, Lithuania's capital city came under fire from the European Union for banning an event designed to promote equal rights for sexual minorities.
Earlier, trolley-bus drivers in Kaunas refused to drive their vehicles carrying posters promoting tolerance towards gay men and women.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Matthew Jones)