Parliament Meets for Crucial Reading on Cohabitation Bill, Debate to Continue Wednesday ({{commentsTotal}})

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Parliament convened this morning, with the controversial Cohabitation Act third on the agenda. However, an earlier separate motion to put the bill to referendum dominated the morning's proceedings, and the clock ran out on today's proceedings.

The bill, which gives non-married couples, including same-sex couples, the right to register and address legal relationship, will be discussed tomorrow, and likely go to a third and final vote on Thursday.

At this morning's session, which began at 10:00, IRL's proposal to put the bill to referendum was discussed, and the discussion lasted more than three hours.

An opinion poll conducted for ERR in summer showed that a majority of people oppose the bill, though it was not clear how much specific opposition to gay marriage colored mindsets. Opposition was especially high among older people and ethnic non-Estonians.

The last vote on the bill took place on June 19, in which 77 of the 99 MPs present voted. Forty-five of the 77 MPs (58.4 percent) opposed rejecting the bill. All of the MPs from IRL, the party seeking a referendum, voted to reject the bill.

The debate became more heated over the summer, culminating in a demonstration held on Sunday by a group that says it wants to protect traditional family institutions.