Estonians are split almost 50-50 on whether same sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, a new poll has found, which makes the country the most LGBT friendly in the Baltics.
The Eurobarometer survey Discrimination in the EU in 2015 asked 1,018 people in Estonia and 27,700 people throughout Europe what their feelings on discrimination were. The project, which was requested by the European Commission, also dealt with feelings towards religious groups, trans and gay relationships and men and women.
The findings revealed that Estonians are split 44 percent to 45 percent against people in a homosexual relationships having the same rights as partners in a heterosexual relationship. Participants were asked whether they “totally agreed”, “totally disagreed” or “didn’t know”, of which 11 percent agreed.
The average result across the EU for people supporting couples having the same rights was 71 percent, almost twice the amount in Estonia. This was the same for support for gay marriage, where 31 percent of Estonian’s polled agreed marriage between same-sex couples should be allowed throughout Europe, compared to 61 percent throughout the EU.
40 percent of Estonians polled said they approved of same-sex relationships in general.
Although Estonia may seem unprogressive compared with the EU average, it is more progressive than its Baltic neighbors.
In contrast, 50 percent of Lithuania participants said did not approve of gay relationships. However, 44 percent did agree – putting it on par with Estonia. And 66 percent said they “totally disagreed” with there being nothing wrong with a same-sex relationship, compared to 30 percent who agreed it was ok. Unsurprisingly, the majority in Lithuania was also against same sex marriage, with 71 percent of people saying they would not support it.
In Latvia, 42 percent of people polled agreed that lesbian, gay and bisexual should be regarded as equal to heterosexual relationships with 51 percent disagreeing. Less than a quarter (23 percent) agreed there was “nothing wrong” with a same sex relationship with 71 percent “totally disagreeing”.
And only 19 percent said gay marriage should be allowed to happen throughout Europe.
In October last year, Estonia became the first former Soviet-occupied country to pass gender-neutral civil partnership bill, giving same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples. Estonian Parliament voted 40 against 38 to pass the bill into law. However, the Parliament needs to pass the implementing acts in order for the law to enter into force from January, 2016.
Editor: H. Wright, S. Tambur