Recognition of same-sex unions in Estonia

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Legal recognition of
same-sex relationships
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Previously performed but not invalidated
  1. Can be registered also in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
  2. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage

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There is no legal recognition of either same-sex marriage or civil union in Estonia. However, the launch of a new Family Law proposal by the Estonian Ministry of Justice, which explicitly declared marriage to be an institution between a man and a woman, provoked a public debate on this issue starting from December 2005. The public debate was called by the Ministry of Social Affairs, which said it had reservations about the draft law.

The public debate brought about a significant response from LGBT rights groups, which opposed the Family Law proposal and urged the government to not discriminate between same-sex and heterosexual couples in marriage, stating that, "We call on the government to drop a clause in the draft law on the family, which does not allow the registration of same-sex marriages or partnerships". On January 4, 2006, five Estonian NGOs supporting gay rights issued a press release asking for the government to draft a new partnership law that would give same-sex couples equal rights with heterosexual couples.[1]

On the other hand, various conservative politicians claimed that Estonia was not yet ready for same-sex marriage, and that there is no need to create a separate law on same-sex unions since existing laws already imply the protection of some of these unions (even though there is no explicit legal mention of same-sex unions). Väino Linde, the chief of the Constitution Commission of the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), stated that he is "glad to see the conservative views in the Parliament and in the Commission of Constitution".[2]

So far in the public debate, the Social Democratic Party has been the only political party to publicly affirm its support of same-sex marriage. The Centre Party and the Reform Party have said that they would tolerate such a law, but have not yet offered a statement of support. Various right-wing parties, particularly the now united Res Publica and the Pro Patria Union, have stated their opposition to same-sex marriage.[2]

Same-sex registered partnership law proposal[edit]

In July 2008, the Ministry of Justice announced that it was drafting a law on registered partnership for same-sex couples. The law, which was initially expected to come into force in 2009, was intended to provide a number of rights for same-sex couples, such as inheritance and shared property ownership. The law had the support of most factions in Estonia's Parliament.[3]

The Ministry of Justice studied proposals for the recognition of unmarried couples, including same-sex couples. A comprehensive report was released in July 2009 which looked at three options: the recognition of unregistered cohabitation, the creation of a partnership registry, and the opening up of marriage to same-sex couples. It left the decision of which model to implement up to the legislature and other "stakeholders".[4][5] On July 1, 2010, a new family law was passed, defining marriage as between a man and a woman and declaring unions between members of the same sex "null and void". Prime Minister Andrus Ansip was quoted as saying, "I do not believe that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will soon accept same-sex marriage in the eyes of the law".[6]

On May 25, 2011, Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder requested that the Ministry of Justice introduce a civil partnership law.[7] He found that the non-recognition of same-sex relationships is contrary to the constitution of Estonia. Thereafter partnership law again became an active political subject in Estonia.

The Reform Party and the Social democratic Party support introducing a partnership law, conservative the Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica is still against it. The Centre Party supports its discussion.[8] The proposal was drafted in August 2012 by the Minister of Justice and was under consultation until 1 October 2012.[9][10][11] In March 2014, parliamentary group began to work on a draft bill to regulate legal status of cohabiting couples.[12] The bill was submitted to the parliament on 17 April 2014. If approved, it will take effect on 1 January 2015.[13][14][15][16] On 22 May, the bill was backed by the government.[17] On 19 June 2014, the parliament rejected the motion to kill the bill at the first reading, in a 32-45 vote. The second reading will take place in the autumn of 2014.[18]

Public opinion[edit]

A poll conducted in June 2009 showed that 32% of Estonians believed 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.[19]

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.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Estonian gays want right to wed". Swaf News. January 3, 2006. Retrieved September 30, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "First Test of Tolerance and Common European Values in Estonia for Gays". UK Gay News. January 10, 2005. Retrieved September 30, 2007. 
  3. ^ GLT World News Briefs
  4. ^ Estonia Might Allow Gay Marriages
  5. ^ Kas homoabielud saavad tõesti rohelise tule?
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "Justice Chancellor Calls for Same-Sex Partnership Law". News.err.ee. 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  8. ^ "Social Dems, Reform Party Reach Common Ground on Civil Partnerships". News.err.ee. 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  9. ^ Ministry Floats Idea of Same-Sex Partnership Without Adoption
  10. ^ New law in Estonia will provide more protection to unmarried couples
  11. ^ (Estonian) KOOSELUSEADUSE EELNÕU KONTSEPTSIOON
  12. ^ Parliamentary Working Group to Codify Cohabitation
  13. ^ Gender-Neutral Cohabitation Bill Submitted to Parliament
  14. ^ (Estonian) Kooseluseadus 650 SE
  15. ^ (Estonian) Seletuskiri kooseluseaduse eelnõu juurde
  16. ^ (Estonian) Samasooliste kooselu registreerimist võimaldav eelnõu sai valmis
  17. ^ Government Approves Cohabitation Bill
  18. ^ Gender-Neutral Civil Union Bill Survives Early Morning Vote
  19. ^ Homopaaride rights advocates, 32% of the population
  20. ^ Autor:Merike Teder (2012-09-13). "Uuring: eestlased pole samasooliste kooselu registreerimise vastu - Eesti uudised". Postimees.ee. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 

External links[edit]