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|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Finland are, although sometimes lacking however, more progressive like any other country in Northern Europe. Homosexuality has been legal since 1971 and declassified as an illness in 1981. The age of consent was equalized to 16 in 1999. Discrimination based on sexual orientation was criminalized in 1995 and discrimination based on gender identity in 2005. Transvestism was declassified as an illness in 2011.
Finland legalized registered partnerships in 2002, which gave same-sex couples all rights except adoption and surname. Public support for a marriage legislation giving those rights has grown gradually during the 2000s and in 2009, stepchild adoption became possible for same-sex couples. 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 April 2011 supported the inclusion of external adoption in same-sex couples' rights, while 93 MPs opposed it. As a result of the Christian Democratic participation 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 talks on government formation that, if proposed by an individual MP, such bill would be endorsed by all the six parties except for the Christian Democrats (the National Coalition, Social Democrats, Left Alliance, Green League and Swedish People's Party). 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. Adoptions in this country are more limited, as only stepchild-adoption has been legalized and not joint adoption. However, though, lesbian couples are given more parental rights than men, as IVF and assisted insemination treatment was legalized for homosexual female couples in 2007.
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 March 2012, a bill to make 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 will be presented again to the Parliament as a citizens' initiative, with a campaign that has gathered over 100,000 signatories with suffrage.
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.
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.
Same-sex marriage: Parliamentary history (2007—2011)
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.[dead link] However, currently four of the eight parties in the Parliament — the Social Democrats, the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People's Party — have 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 does not believe gay marriage will 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 has no general position on gay marriage, though it opposes adoption rights for same-sex couples. The Christian Democrats and the True Finns have taken a negative stance on gay marriage on their platforms.
Same-sex marriage: Parliamentary history (2011—present)
According to responses 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, the chairperson of the Christian Democrats and the Finnish Minister of the Interior since June 22, 2011, 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 upon during the talks on government formation that, if proposed by an individual MP, such bill would be endorsed by all the six parties except for the Christian Democrats (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 started to work in September 2011. The bill was presented to the Parliament on February 8, 2012, with the collection of endorsement signatures – eventually, 76 of the 199 voting MPs supported the bill. The bill was fully supported by 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 none of the True Finns nor Christian Democrats voiced support for the bill. According to state broadcaster Yle, the bill had less chances to pass, because it was submitted as a legislative motion by an MP and, therefore, had to get 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 February 27, 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 chairwoman Anne Holmlund, who personally opposes the bill, of delaying its processing. Holmlund denied this, pointing to the amount of government proposals and bills with over 100 signatory MPs, which have precedence in the procedural rules. Also, Finns Party MP Arja Juvonen, who was expected to be more pro-gay than her predecessor in the committee, Johanna Jurva, accused the Greens, Social Democrats and Left Alliance of pressuring her to endorse the bill, against the Finns Party's group decision. After being turned down by the committee, the same bill will, however, be again considered by the Parliament – a March 1, 2012 amendment to the Finnish Constitution 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") commenced to gather signatures for the bill on March 19, 2013, gathering over 100,000 online signatures on the first day.
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.
Adoption and family planning
Only stepchild-adoption has been legalized and not joint adoption. However, lesbian female couples can have access to IVF and assisted insemination treatment since 2007. Surrogacy remains illegal for every couple.
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