- January 25, 2022
From Mickevičius to Mickiewicz. The President of Lithuania Nausėda has signed original name spelling bill into law
Lithuanian President, Gitanas Nausėda, has signed into law the bill on the original spelling of non-Lithuanian names in Latin-based characters, approved by the Lithuanian Parliament. The amended law provides that mixed marriages, in which one of the spouses accepts a Lithuanian name, will be embraced. The statute will also include national minorities – by allowing the use of letters such as “w”, “q”, “x” and phonetic transcription. The change doesn’t involve diacritical marks though. Thus, it will be possible to transform Ana to Anna, Mickevičius to Mickiewicz but the name Władysław- will remain Wladyslaw.
There was a disagreement among commentators regarding the stand of the presidential centre. Due to the tension between the President and government, some supposed the head of state would be eager to veto a bill. However, speculations turned out to be wrong as the part of the postulated for decades became real.
“The parliament undertook the initiative to find the complex balance between two constitutional values: -maintaining the characteristic features of the national language and the protection of human rights- such as the right to respect for private and family life, the right of free movement, the right of people belonging to national minorities to have their name and surname spelt in a more acceptable way defined by law. I hope that by adopting implementing acts of that statute, the constitutional status of the language and appropriate respect for the Lithuanian language system and its character will be provided.”- according to the head of state’s statement, Gitanas Nausėda.
The President has also refered to the doubts of some representatives that assumed the bill to be unconstitutional. He stated that for these types of questions only the Constitutional Court can answer.
Translated by Aleksandra Szulc within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.