LGBT rights in Estonia

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LGBT rights in Estonia
Location of  Estonia  (dark green)– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Estonia  (dark green)

– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1992,
age of consent equalized in 2001
Gender identity/expression -
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protection in employment (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
No recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption No

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Estonia may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Estonia, but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity, which was illegal in the Soviet Union, was legalised in Estonia in 1992. The age of consent is 14 years and was equalized for both homosexual and heterosexual sex in 2001.[1] Homosexuals are not banned from military service.

Gender identity/expression[edit]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

The government has started working on a law which would allow same-sex couples to register their partnerships.[2]

Adoption and family law[edit]

Single gay or lesbian persons may petition to adopt and same-sex couples are allowed to foster or stepchild foster. However, same-sex couples can't adopt because the law states that only a couple which are married can adopt, and both same-sex marriage and registered partnerships are currently not recognized in Estonia.

See also: LGBT parenting

Discrimination protections[edit]

As an obligation for acceptance into the European Union, Estonia transposed an EU directive into its own laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment from 1 May 2004. The Law on Equal Treatment, which entered into force on 1 January 2009, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in areas other than employment, such as health care, social security, education and the provision of goods and services.[3][4]

Since 2006, the Penal Code prohibits public incitement to hatred on the basis of sexual orientation.[3]

Living conditions[edit]

Homosexuality was illegal in the USSR, including Estonia, although the situation seemed to be more liberal in occupied Estonia than in most other parts of the former Soviet Union. In the mid-1980s, there was an unofficial gay bar in Tallinn. There was also at least one cruising area in both Tallinn and Tartu.[5] But the gay scenes are unclear outside Tallinn and Tartu. The first conference dedicated to sexual minorities took place in Tallinn in 1990. At the same time, the Estonian Lesbian Society (Eesti Lesbiliit) was founded.[6]

Pride parades have been organised since 2004 in Tallinn.

In June 2006, Dutch Ambassador to Estonia Hans Glaubitz requested he be transferred to the Dutch consulate in Montreal, Canada after ongoing homophobic and racial verbal abuse being hurled against his partner, an Afro-Cuban dancer named Raúl García Lao, by citizens in the capital of Tallinn. A released statement by the Estonian authorities stated that they "regretted the incidents very much".[7]

From 6 June to 12 June 2011, Estonia hosted Baltic Pride, a festival to promote greater support and awareness for LGBT people. Key speakers at the event included Riho Rahuoja, the Deputy Secretary General for Social Policy at the Ministry of Social Affairs; Christian Veske, the Chief Specialist in the Ministry's Gender Equality Department; Kari Käsper, Project Manager of the "Diversity Enriches" campaign from the Estonian Human Rights Centre; Hanna Kannelmäe from the Estonian Gay Youth NGO, U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Michael C. Polt, British Ambassador to Estonia Peter Carter and British photographer Clare B. Dimyon, who exhibited "Proud of our Identity" at Tallinn's Solaris Centre on 31 March. "Proud of our Identity" comprises photographs of and by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people taken at various Pride events throughout Europe, including photographs of Estonian LGBT people.[8]

Public opinion[edit]

A Eurobarometer survey published on December 2006 showed that 21% of Estonians surveyed support same-sex marriage and 14% recognise same-sex couple's right to adopt (EU-wide average 44% and 33%).[9]

A poll conducted in June 2009 showed that 32% of Estonians believe that same-sex couples should have the same legal rights as opposite-sex couples. Support was 40% among young people, but only 6% among older people.[10] And according to a survey conducted in 2000, 50% of surveyed men and 63% of women agreed with the statement “Homosexuality among adults is a private affair of the people concerned with which officials the law should in no way interfere; 29% of men and 25% of women found it hard to say what their position was.[5]

From a Eurobarometer survey published in 2008, only 13 percent of Estonians profess to have homosexual friends or acquaintances, compared to a 34 percent average in the EU. However, Estonians ranked higher than the European average in willingness to grant equal opportunities to sexual minorities.[11]

A poll conducted in September 2012 found that 34% of Estonians supported same-sex marriage and 46% supported registered partnerships. The poll found an ethnic divide: while 51% of ethnic Estonians supported registered partnerships, only 35% of ethnic Russians were of the same view.[12]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (since 1992)
Equal age of consent Yes (since 2001)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only Yes (since 2004)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (since 2008)
Same-sex marriage No
Recognition of same-sex couples No (Pending)
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender Yes
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No

See also[edit]

References[edit]