The amendments necessary for the effective implementation of the Cohabitation Act passed the first reading in the Parliament today with 42 to 41 votes.
The implementating acts are necessary to clarify legal details for same-sex couples and third parties alike.
They would see amendments made to a total of 85 regulations. Most of the changes involve inserting the term “registered partner” into the laws to provide people in same-sex partnerships with rights currently enjoyed by married couples only.
“It's the obligation of the state to stand for the rights of its citizens, including the rights of the minorities,” said Heljo Pikhof of the Social Democrats, who presented the act to her fellow MPs. “As Members of the Parliament, we must honor all constitutional rights, not pick and choose as we like,” she said, adding that it is not, as many claim, a political decision.
“A law cannot force people to change their beliefs or their way of life. These are and always will be up to an individual,” she said.
The Cohabitation Act will come into force even if the implementing acts will not pass. It will just be very complicated, Valdo Randpere, representative of the Parliament's legal committee said.
It is not yet know when the implementing acts would come into force anyway, even if passed, Randpere said.
Compared to other topics in the agenda of today's sitting, the acts drew a lot of speeches from all six factions.
Mihkel Raud (Social Democrats) said the debate surrounding the same-sex partnership is one about happiness. “We've been told that by allowing same-sex couples to be happy, we've denied happiness to traditional couples,” he said, adding: “It's quite contrary, I believe that the happiness of one helps others be happy too.”
Jüri Adams from the Free Party found that the complicated implementing acts are unnecessary and the Cohabitation Act could function without them. According to him, majority of the 49-page bill is useless and some of the points would have negative consequences. It should be scrapped and completely redrawn.
Representatives from EKRE and IRL asked for the Cohabitation Act to be annulled and the implementing acts rejected. Their proposal failed with one vote and the bill will undergo a second reading soon, with the amendment proposals deadline set for December 8.
The bill needs at least 51 votes to pass the third reading and come into force.
Editor: M. Oll