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Estonia legalizes same-sex marriage

June 20, 2023

Estonia has become the second Central European country to legalize same-sex marriage. The law will come into force in 2024.

Tartu Pride in Tartu, Estonia
More than half of Estonia's population supports same-sex marriage, according to a recent surveyImage: Margus Ansu/Scanpix/IMAGO

The Estonian Parliament on Tuesday passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage. This makes Estonia the second Central European country to do so, after Slovenia. The law will come into force on January 1, 2024.

"I'm proud of my country. We're building a society where everyone's rights are respected and people can love freely," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas wrote on Twitter.

According to the Estonian public broadcaster ERR, 55 members of parliament voted in favor of the measure, while 34 voted against.

A survey published last month by the polling firm Turu-uuringute AS for the Estonian Human Rights Centre found 53% of Estonians support marriage equality, up from 47% in 2021.

Long way to equality

The law follows earlier moves to grant greater rights to LGBTQ+ Estonians, all of which fell short of equality. 

In 2014, Estonia introduced same-sex civil unions, which did not deliver the same adoption rights and parental recognition that automatically come with marriage.

Same-sex relations between men were criminalized in Estonia under Soviet occupation, and did not become legal again until 1992, one year after independence.

Most former communist countries in Europe and Central Asia lag behind Western nations on LGBTQ+ rights. In 2022, Slovenia became the first post-communist country to allow same-sex marriage.

dh/nm (Reuters, ERR)

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