Laws

LATVIA

Limited information only available for these topics

Access to Children
Adoption of Children
Age of Consent
Anti-Vilification
Artifical Insemination
Assisted Reproduction
Asylum / Refugees
Civil Unions
  Custody of Children
Discrimination
Estates, Wills
Fostering Children
Gender Identity
Harassment
Hate Crimes
  HIV/Aids
Homosexuality
Immigration
Inheritance, Succession
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Marriage
Military
  Parenting
Partners
Property
Sodomy
Transgender, Transsexual
Violence
Wills, Estates
Wrongful Death

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Age of Consent Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 18 May 2000, the criminal law was amended:

"Article 161 Sexual acts, pederasty, lesbianism with a person who has not reached the age of 16 -

"Sexual acts, pederasty, lesbianism or other forms of unnatural sexual gratification with a person who has not reached the age of 16 and who is in a situation of material or other dependence on the offender, or such acts committed by a person of full age [i.e. age of majority, in Latvia 18], shall be punishable with imprisonment for up to four years." [R1.1].

Sexual activity between a person between 14 (the age from which a person can be held criminally responsible) and 18 on the one hand and a person who has reached the age of 14 but not reached the age of 16 on the other constitutes a criminal offence only when there is material or other dependency between these persons."

Any sexual acts with a person who has not reached the age of 14 is punishable.

R1.1 Juris Ludvigs Lavrikovs: Latvia: Criminal Law Amended to Clarify that Age of Consent is Equal for All 01 SEP 01
Juris Lavrikovs: Latvian Age of Consent Equalised 22 JUL 98
Assisted Reproduction Technology
Artificial Insemination, In Vitro Fertilisation, Surrogacy
Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In March 2001, medically assisted artificial insemination is not at present the subject of legislation and is available only in a few clinics.

The current practice of these clinics does not require the recipient to be married or for there to be enquiries about sexual orientation. Thus single women, including lesbians, can obtain medically assisted artificial insemination [R1.1].

A draft law "On Reproductive Health" is currently in the preparation stage and appears to permit artificial insemination of single women and lesbians [R1.1].

R1.1 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
Asylum, Immigration, Refugees Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Asylum, Refugees

In March 2001, Latvian legislation dealing with the issues of asylum-seekers and refugees does not specifically refer to persecution on grounds of sexual orientation as possible grounds for asylum [R1.1].

The Centre for Refugees of the Ministry of the Interior has stated that although lesbians and gay men are not specifically mentioned in the law, the Centre will closely follow the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' interpretation of the phrase "social group", which appears in Latvian law, as including lesbians and gay men [R1.1].

So far there have been no cases when persecuted lesbians or gay men claimed asylum in Latvia.

In 1997, Latvia ratified the UN 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and adopted a law on "Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Republic of Latvia". Article 2 of this law defines refugees as individuals "who enter or have already entered Latvia because they have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion" [R1.2].

2.

Immigration

In March 2001, only married foreign partners of Latvians are entitled to obtain a permanent residency permit.

Partners of Latvian lesbians and gay men who are not Latvian citizens but residing in Latvia cannot apply for Latvian citizenship outside the normal procedure [R1.1].

R1.1 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
R1.2 Juris Lavrikovs: Asylum Made Possible for Persecuted Homosexuals 22 JUL 98
Children: Access, Custody, Visitation Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In March 2001, lesbians and gay men who have had children in a previous heterosexual relationship can face discrimination if a dispute arises between them and their former partners over child custody and visiting rights.

If during divorce parents cannot agree over the custody of a child the court must resolve this dispute "taking into account the interests of the child".

Similarly each parent has a right to visit a child who is left with the other parent except in cases where "visiting may harm the child".

Disputes over visiting rights are resolved by the court under similar guidelines involving the "interests of the child". [R1.1].

R1.1 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
Civil Unions, Partners: Domestic, Registered Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [MARRIAGE]
1.

National

Co-habitation between persons, whether of mixed or the same gender is not recognised in Latvian law for any purposes.

Health care law identifies the circle of persons whose views are considered when a person is committed to a mental hospital against his/her will, or when a person is incapable of giving or withholding consent to medical treatment. This list only includes this person's family members and relatives. Thus lesbians and gays do not have any rights in a case of this nature involving their partners [R1.3].


On 09 February 2015, it was reported that Unity Party MP Veiko Spolitis had submitted a bill to the Latvian Parliament's Legal Committee to recognize the relationships of unmarried couples under which couples entering into civil partnerships must be over 18, compared to 16 for married couples, and would be banned from solemnizing their relationships in religious places of worship. He is hopeful it can be voted on in the Parliament before the end of the year [R1.2].

In 1999, the Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee rejected a gay registered partnership bill, declining to send it to the full parliament [R1.1].

R1.3 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
R1.2 GayStarNews: Latvian Parliament to consider gender neutral partnership law in 2015 09 FEB 15
R1.1 Capital Q: Latvia Stops Partner Measure 10 DEC 99
Discrimination Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In March 2001, Article 91 of the Constitution provided that "all people in Latvia are equal before the law and the courts. Human rights shall be exercised without any discrimination". The Parliamentary Legal Office confirmed that Article 91 guarantees inter alia protection on grounds of sexual orientation however, individuals and non-governmental organisations do not have the right to petition the Constitutional Court [R1.1].

In 1997, in the Gatis Bugoveckis anti-discrimination case the Latvian National Human Rights Office (LNHRO) found that the dismissal of Bugoveckis from his employment was discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation and contrary to Latvian law and international human rights norms. However, whilst the LNHRO had a right to investigate complaints, its power is limited to the formulating of "opinions and proposals in the form of recommendations" [R1.1], [R1.2].

A new draft Labour Law provides in Article 7 "Principle of equal rights":

"(1) Every person shall have equal rights to employment, to an equitable, safe work environment which is not harmful to health, and to fair payment for work.

"(2) The rights referred to in paragraph 1 of this article shall be guaranteed without any discrimination in regard to sex, race, skin colour, language, age, religious, political or other conviction, ethnicity, nationality, social background, sexual orientation, or material or other status."

The law was expected to be in force by 1 January 2001 [R1.1].

In 2005, the EU reported that Latvia remained the only EU member state which does not ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment [R1.3].

In 2006, the law prohibiting discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation came into effect [R1.4].

R1.1 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
Juris Lavrikovs: Changes in the Latvian Constitution 30 OCT 98
R1.2 Juris Ludvigs Lavrikovs: First Moral Victory in Latvia 09 OCT 98
R1.3 ILGA Europe: Latvia Does Not Ban Sexual Orientation 07 AUG 05
R1.4 ILGA: State-Sponsored Homophobia PDF 382.87kb, 14 MAY 08

GayLawNet®™ "Exclusive" Sponsorship of this page IS available
HIV Aids Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In March 2001, it was reported that medical officials in the eastern Latvian city and district of Rezekne decided to conduct HIV testing even without patients' permission [R1.1].

Otherwise, free and confidential testing was reportedly available [R1.2].

R1.1 Homosexuality Information Centre: Latvian City of Rezekne Introduces HIV Testing Without Consent 01 MAR 01
R1.2 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
Homosexuality, Sodomy Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [AGE OF CONSENT]
1.

National

In 1992 [R1.1], legislation criminalising consensual acts between men was repealed [R1.2].

R1.1 ILGA: State-Sponsored Homophobia PDF 382.87kb, 14 MAY 08
R1.2 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
Capital Q: Repeal of Gay Sex Laws 05 NOV 97
Melbourne Star Observer: Belarus Legalised Gay Sex in 1991 23 AUG 96
Estates, Inheritance, Property, Succession, Wills Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

As at March 2001, co-habitation between persons, whether of mixed or the same gender was not recognised in Latvian law for any purposes [R1.3] it follows that there are no rights at law for dividing the property of same-sex partners.

When a person wishes to register another person at his/her address, lesbian and gay partners have to obtain the written permission of the municipal authority, which is not required for a married couple [R1.2].


Even if a lesbian or gay person leaves a Will or inheritance contract in favour of his/her partner, it does not necessarily mean that the partner will inherit in accordance with the Will or contract.

The concept of "compulsory beneficiary" limits freedom of testament and contract.

"Compulsory beneficiary" covers spouses, descendants, and where these are lacking, parents or grandparents. These "compulsory beneficiaries" are entitled to a "compulsory part", which is half of the property they would be entitled to if they inherited according to the law.

So, if a person leaves a Will or a contract without taking account of the "compulsory beneficiaries", the latter have a right to appeal in court for their "compulsory part".

If a lesbian or gay person leaves a Will or inheritance contract which does NOT provide for their same-sex partner, the survivor has no right to appeal against their partner's Will or contract as they do not qualify as "compulsory beneficiaries".

In case of a tenant's death the law allows only the tenant's family members to request the transfer of a rent contract.

An unemployed lesbian or gay man whose only means of support was their partnerís salary loses that partner, they will not be entitled to a lost provider pension. The same applies to the loss of an insured partner [R1.1].

R1.3 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
R1.2 Ibid footnote 15: Decision No. 186 of 13 April 1993 by Cabinet of Ministers MAR 01
R1.1 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
Gender Identity, Intersex,
Transgender, Transexual

[?]
Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In March 2000, a male-to-female transsexual obtained an amendment to her birth certificate following a sex-change operation [R1.1].

R1.1 Homosexuality Information Centre: First Legal Victory for Transsexual 19 MAR 00
Marriage Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In December 2005, the Latvian parliament approved changing the constitution to ban same-sex marriage [R1.1].

Previously:

In 1991, the reinstated 1937 Civil Law was amended by Article 35.2 prohibiting marriage between persons of the same sex.

Co-habitation between persons, whether of mixed or the same gender is not recognised in Latvian law for any purposes [R1.2].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 27 May 2106, the Latvian Supreme Court was reported to have overturned an administrative court decision to refuse an application to register a same-sex marriage on a technicality, saying that whilst current regulations do not allow registering same-sex marriages in Latvia, the application should have been considered in a context not of marriage, but of registering familial partnership [R2.1].

R1.1 Sydney Star Observer: Latvia Bans Gay Marriage 22 DEC 05
R1.2 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
R2.1 LSM.LV: Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage request will be considered 28 MAY 16
Military Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

Latvian legislation regulating state military services such as army, police, security services, etc., does not contain provisions preventing persons with homosexual orientation from serving or working for these services.

Military authorities have stated that sexual orientation is an irrelevant characteristic during recruitment and a person's sexual orientation cannot be a reason for preventing a person from joining the military service or dismissing him/her from service [R1.1].

However, many gay men are not willing to serve in the military services, which in practice are considered very homophobic and not a safe environment for gay men, but are still forced to do so, military service being compulsory for all males from age 18.

R1.1 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01
Parenting, Adoption, Fostering Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In March 2001, adoption was open to every capable person who is at least 25 years of age and at least 18 years older than the adopted child. Thus theoretically this option is open to lesbians and gay men individually.

The law allows for adoption only if this is "in the interests of the child".

An investigation and decision of the Orphan's Court is necessary for any adoption to take place. It is very doubtful that the Orphan's Court would allow the adoption of a child by a person known to be homosexual.

While a married couple can adopt a child, lesbian and gay couples are denied such an opportunity: according to Civil Law, persons "who are not married cannot simultaneously adopt the same child" [R1.1].

R1.1 ILGA-Europe: Equality for Lesbians & Gay Men" Chapter 6 MAR 01