Act on spelling of names and surnames approved in the Seimas. 1 letter for Poles – yes. 10 – no.
The Seimas of Lithuania has adopted the draft Act on the spelling of names and surnames allowing to use Latin letter when writing ones’ names. Poles in Lithuania will only be able to use the letter „w” among others approved („w”, „x”, „q”). The changes do not include the letters with diacritics, that are important to Lithuanian Poles: ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż, dź, dż. If the President signs the bill, it will come into force on 1st May 2022.
Although the draft, which was discussed by the Seimas on 11th January and was approved in the first reading (it was also supported by the members of the Seimas of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania – Christian Families Alliance), the EAPL-CFA warned that the Act does not allow Poles in Lithuania to write their names and surnames in their original spelling, because it does not provide Polish letters with diacritics.
As Rita Tamašunienė (member of the Seimas) emphasized, the writing of names and surnames in the original version has been an issue raised by national minorities for years, and the EAPL-CFA submitted many legislative bills on this subject, but each time the parliament lacked the political will to adopt them. It also happened recently, when the members from EAPL-CFA Rita Tamašunienė, Beata Petkevič and Česlav Olševski proposed their own amendment so that non-Lithuanian surnames could be spelled in the original spelling (using additional 10 letters with diacritics), but this amendment was rejected by most of the Seimas.
‘Some members of the Lithuanian parliament wanted the new law to apply only to citizens who got married to foreigners, but all citizens should be treated equally,’ underlined Tamašunienė. ‘Everyone should have the right to have their names spelled in an original version,’ she said.
Unfortunately, the position of the Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė was not surprising as always. While commenting on the adoption of the Act on the spelling of names, she expressed a position similar to the one presented by the Minister of Justice Evelina Dobrovolska. The minister stated that it is not yet time to adopt a law whereby non-Lithuanian surnames can be spelled according to their original spelling (using diacritics). Taking into account the fact that every person has the right to his or her first and last names, because it is classified as a fundamental human right – this attitude of the Prime Minister Šimonytė, as well as Minister Dobrovolska, is difficult to understand, because in the face of unequivocal violations of human rights, these infringements should be immediately abolished and human rights should be guaranteed with immediate effect.