LGBT rights in Finland
|LGBT rights in Finland|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1971,
age of consent equalized in 1999
|Gender identity/expression||Transsexual persons allowed to change legal gender|
|Military service||Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly|
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation and gender identity protections|
|Registered partnerships since 2002|
|Adoption||Stepchild adoption only|
|This article is outdated. (November 2014)|
In Finland, gender-neutral marriage will come into force on 1 March 2017; President Sauli Niinistö signed the law to that effect on 20 February 2015. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) already enjoy fairly wide protection under the law. Homosexuality was legalized in 1971 (with "promotion" thereof decriminalized in 1999) and declassified as an illness in 1981. The age of consent was equalized to 16 in 1999. Discrimination based on sexual orientation except in the area of marriage was criminalized in 1995 and discrimination based on gender identity in 2005. Transvestism was classified as an illness in Finland until 2011.
Finland legalized registered partnerships in 2002, which gave same-sex couples all rights except adoption and surname, in vitro fertilization (IVF) was allowed for lesbian couples in 2007 and stepchild adoption became possible for all same-sex couples in 2009. Public support for a marriage legislation allowing all the same rights for same-sex couples as opposite-sex couples has grown gradually during the 2000s. Based on support by five of the eight parties in the Parliament elected in 2007, it was considered possible that same-sex marriage would be legalized after the 2011 parliamentary elections. It was speculated that the same-sex marriage issue would be a major theme, however, in an August 2010 survey by Yle, only 20% of the respondents said the issue should be a major theme. According to the voting advice application of Helsingin Sanomat, 90 MPs of the current 200-seat Parliament elected in 2011 supported same-sex couples' eligibility for external adoptions, while 93 MPs opposed it. As a result of the Christian Democratic inclusion in the new government – the Christian Democrats' chairperson Päivi Räsänen became the Minister of the Interior, – a bill legalizing same-sex marriage was not included in the government platform. However, according to the Left Alliance, it was agreed upon during the negotiations on government formation that, if proposed by an individual MP, such bill would be endorsed by all the other parties in the government coalition (the National Coalition, Social Democrats, Left Alliance, Green League and Swedish People's Party). In March 2012, a bill to make the language of the Marriage Act gender-neutral – effectively, allowing gay marriage – was proposed to the Parliament, signed by 76 out of the 199 voting MPs during 2012. In February 2013, the bill was voted down by the Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee. However, the bill was submitted again in December 2013 to the Parliament as a citizens' initiative with over 160,000 signatories gathered from mid-March to mid-September that year, and it was approved by the Parliament in late 2014.
In addition to their marital aspects, other LGBT rights have been a matter of debate. A gay rights panel discussion aired on YLE2 on October 12, 2010, was followed by an unprecedented high number of people leaving the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland through a website. A person has the right to change his or her legal gender in Finland only if he or she is sterilized, which has been criticized by SETA as a violation of reproductive rights; in 2012, a possible change of the law was put under consideration by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. In 2011, Pekka Haavisto, an openly gay member of the Finnish parliament, was nominated as the Green League candidate for the Finnish presidential election of 2012. In the first round of the election on January 22, 2012, he finished second with 18.8 percent of the votes, but in the run-off on February 5, he lost to the National Coalition Party candidate, former Finance Minister Sauli Niinistö with 37.4 percent of the votes. In December 2013, the Finnish Medicines Agency changed its rules on blood donations, repealing a permanent ban for men who have had sex with men (MSM) and setting a one-year deferral.
Homosexuality has been decriminalized since 1971, and has been declassified as an illness since 1981. The age of consent was equalized to 16 in 1999. Discrimination based on sexual orientation has been criminalized since 1995 and on gender identity or expression since 2005. Transvestism has been declassified as an illness since 2011.
Recognition of same-sex unions in Finland
Registered partnerships in Finland (Finnish: rekisteröity parisuhde; Swedish: registrerat partnerskap) were created for same-sex couples in 2002. The legislation granting similar rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples as to married opposite-sex couples was passed by the parliament in September 2001 with votes 99–84. In May 2009, the Parliament revised the law allowing couples to adopt the biological children of their partner. Registered partnerships, which are available only to same-sex couples, are registered and dissolved using a procedure similar to that for civil marriage. The legislation also grants immigration rights to a foreign partner.
According to a survey conducted by the newspaper Kotimaa, on March 11, 2010, the parliament elected in Spring 2007 was split on the issue of gay marriage, with 54% opposing and 46% supporting a gender-neutral marriage law. However, four of the eight parties in the Parliament — the Social Democrats, the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People's Party — had declared their support for same-sex marriage in their general position papers. The National Coalition put gay marriage on its agenda in its party congress on June 2010, though the vice-chairman of its parliament group Ben Zyskowicz did not believe gay marriage would be approved at least by the NCP during the upcoming four years, basing his view on the fact that majority of the current NCP MPs are against it. The Centre Party had no general position on gay marriage, though it opposes adoption rights for same-sex couples. The Christian Democrats and the True Finns took a negative stance on gay marriage on their platforms.
According to responses taken in 2011 to the voting advice application of Helsingin Sanomat, 90 MPs of the current 200-seat Parliament elected in April 2011 supported the inclusion of external adoption in same-sex couples' rights, while 93 MPs opposed it. As a result of the post-election negotiations on government formation, which ended with the Christian Democratic participation in the new rainbow coalition, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage was not included in the government platform. Hence, Päivi Räsänen, chair of the Christian Democrats and the Minister of the Interior, thanked the other governing parties "for tolerance and respect". However, according to a report by the Left Alliance's Work Group on Justice, Security and Immigration, it was agreed during the government formation talks that if such a bill was proposed by an individual MP, it would be endorsed by all the six governing parties except the Christian Democrats (that is, the National Coalition Party, Social Democrats, Left Alliance, Green League and Swedish People's Party).
A work group for the bill, headed by National Coalition MP Lasse Männistö, was soon launched and began operating in September 2011. A bill was subsequently presented to the Finnish Parliament on 8 February 2012, with the collection of endorsement signatures - 76 of the 199 voting MPs indicated that they supported the bill. The bill received full supported from the Left Alliance and ex-Left Alliance MPs (12 and 2, respectively) and the Greens (10), while it enjoyed majority support within the Social Democrats (30–12) and the Swedish People's Party (7–3). Meanwhile, the marriage bill enjoyed minority support within the National Coalition (14–30) and very little support from the Centre (1–34), while no MPs from either the True Finns party nor the Christian Democrats voiced support. According to state broadcaster Yle, the bill had a reduced chance of passing because it was submitted as a private member's bill and, therefore, had to have at least 100 signatories in order to qualify for the preparation process in a Parliamentary committee – as opposed to a government proposal which goes directly to a committee and to a vote in a parliamentary plenary session.
On 27 February 2013, the bill was voted down by the Legal Affairs Committee in a 9–8 vote. Prior to the rejection, proponents of the bill accused the committee chair Anne Holmlund (who personally opposes the bill), of delaying the process. Holmlund denied this, pointing to a number of government proposals and bills with over 100 signatory MPs, which have precedence under the procedural rules. The Finns Party MP Arja Juvonen, who had been expected to be more pro-gay than her predecessor on the committee (Johanna Jurva), also accused the Greens, Social Democrats and Left Alliance of pressuring her to endorse the bill against the Finns Party's group decision. However, an amendment to the Finnish Constitution of 1 March 2012 allows for citizens' initiatives with at least 50,000 signatories with suffrage to be considered by the Parliament. A civil campaign called "Tahdon2013" ("I do 2013") quickly gathered pace and collected the necessary signatures for the bill by 19 March 2013, - gathering over 100,000 online signatures on the first day alone. In total, the initiative was backed by over 166,000 by its deadline, September 19, was submitted to the Parliament in December 2013. The bill was put for introductory debate (lähetekeskustelu) in plenary session on 20 February 20 2014, after which the bill was referred to the Legal Affairs Committee. On 25 June, the bill was rejected by the Legal Affairs Committee by a vote of 10-6. Two members were not present, though both apologized for being absent and stated that it would have failed on a 9-8 count if everyone had attended.
On 28 November 2014, the Finnish Parliament voted 105-92 to allow an amendment to permit same sex marriage. This makes Finland the 12th nation in Europe to legalise same sex marriage. The bill is now pending signature by the President. Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has shown support for the bill and says it is likely to be signed by the President. The law came out of a citizen's initiative and the Prime Minister boosts this as "a prime example of citizen power."
Public opinion on same-sex marriage
The support for same-sex marriage in Finland has grown during the 2000s. A December 2006 EU poll put Finnish support for same-sex marriage at 45%, while an August 2010 survey conducted by Yle, put the support at 54%, with 35% opposing it. In January 2013, a poll conducted by YouGov found that the support had climbed to 57%, with 32% opposed and 12% unsure. In the same survey, support for same-sex adoption was 51%, with 36% opposed and 13% unsure. A March 2013 survey by Taloustutkimus found that 58% of Finns supported same-sex marriage. A survey taken in March 2014 by Taloustutkimus found that 65% of Finns supported same-sex marriage, while 27% opposed. A different survey in March 2014 found that 57% support same-sex adoption, while 36% opposed.
Adoption and family planning
Only step-child adoptions are legal for same-sex couples. However, female couples have more parental rights than male couples, given that a law allowing equal access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and artificial insemination was legalized in 2006. Surrogacy remains illegal for both opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples.
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||(Since 1971)|
|Equal age of consent||(Since 1999)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment only||(Since 1999)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services||(Since 1999)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)||(Since 2005)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples||(Since 2002)|
|Same-sex marriages||(To come into effect in 2017)|
|Step-child adoption by same-sex couples||(Since 2009)|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples||(To come into effect in 2017)|
|Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Right to change legal gender||(Since 2002)|
|Access to IVF for lesbians||(Since 2006)|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood||/ (Since 2013, one year deferral required)|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples||(Banned for opposite-sex couples also)|
- Recognition of same-sex unions in Finland
- SETA (organization)
- Human rights in Finland
- LGBT rights in Europe
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- Note: the text is an unofficial translation used by the Ministry of Justice of Finland.
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