Lithuania's parliament on Thursday voted to accept a draft bill legalizing same-sex civil partnerships for further debate, after voting down a similar bill in May 2021.
Seventy lawmakers voted in favor and 52 against accepting the measure for discussion, with several opponents raising questions about whether legalizing same-sex partnerships would go against Catholic teachings.
Proponents were mildly encouraged but acknowledged that challenges lay ahead to passage of the bill in the strongly Catholic country.
"The law could better defend human dignity, but support was needed and this was the lowest threshold possible," said Gabrielius Landsbergis, head of the ruling Homeland Union party.
The lawmakers will also debate an alternative same-sex couple legislation, dropping partnerships - seen by some proponents as too similar to marriage - for the right for any cohabitating people to legally declare "a close connection" between them.
The nation of 2.8 million, once ruled from Moscow, has been a member of the European Union and NATO since 2004.