Same-sex couples in Finland have had access to registered partnerships since 2002, granting all the legal rights of marriage save adoption and surname change. Under Finnish law, a “citizen’s initiative,” such as the one being put forth now, can be started by the people, thereby ensuring Parliament discusses the bills that matter to its citizens. These petitions require 50,000 names within six months; the marriage equality bill racked in nearly 100,000 in just 24 hours.
Discussion of the proposed bill is set to begin its initial stage with Parliament on Friday, February 20, under Finland’s legal committee. Around 42,000 people have signed an opposing petition against same-sex marriage. But a 2013 poll showed that 58 percent of the country were supportive of same-sex marriage. In that same poll, according to LGBTQ Nation, 34 percent of Finns showed that they were not in support of “gender-neutral” marriage.
The petition, which was launched by the Tahdon 2013 campaign, was signed by 166,000 people in six months; the proposal was then presented to speaker of parliament Eero Heinäluoma in December 2013. After the initial debate on February 20, the proposed bill will pass to the Legal Affairs Committee.
“I really hope Finland will follow suit after the UK, France, states in the US, and all of the other countries that have already introduced equal marriage laws,” said the Secretary General of gay rights group Seta, Aija Salo.
“I hope that MPs will listen to the call of the people. It is an important signal of equal rights for Finland.”
Currently, Finland is the only Nordic country without same-sex marriage laws; Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway all allow LGBT couples full marital rights.