Family Values Leader: Rally at Parliament 'Last Stand' Against Abandonment of Ideals (12)
The head of Estonia's leading conservative family values group has called for a demonstration on Sunday against what is seen as the government's tacit support for gay marriage.
Varro Vooglaid of the Foundation for the Protection of Family and Tradition says it is "undemocratic" that Parliament is "forcing" through the Cohabitation Act, which a poll showed that most people do not support.
A poll in August commissioned by ERR showed that 58 percent of people in Estonia oppose the draft law, with 34 for and 8 percent undecided. Opposition was especially high among non-Estonians and older people.
The bill would allow all cohabiting couples regardless of sexual orientation or gender to enjoy more equal legal protection, but would not redefine marriage. The bill will be debated in Parliament on Tuesday, October 7.
Vooglaid told ETV that the reason for holding the demonstration, which will take place at noon on October 5, is that people are against implicitly redefining the institution of family. He called it the last chance to stand up for their rights before the bill becomes law.
"We know that we have gathered more than 45,000 signatures and tens of thousands of protest letters have been submitted to Parliament. Polls by Emor show that there is no majority of any party's voters who support the law. And they have asked that the law be put to referendum - it would not be approved."
Demonstrations typically have a low turnout in Estonia, but Vooglaid said he hopes for 500, 1,000 or even a couple thousand people in front of Parliament.
"The question comes down to ideals. We know that every culture, every society is structured on such ideals. Will we retain respect toward ideals or cast them aside, say that life has gone on and become different?"
Asked whether people in a democracy could have different ideals, Vooglaid said yes, people did not have to conform to other people's opinions, but said cultural traditions and the will of the people must be considered.