Though the prospect of same-sex marriage in Estonia is a long way off, gay rights in the country took a small step forward when Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder requested this week that the Ministry of Justice introduce legislation to give same-sex partnerships a legal foundation.
In a May 23 statement, Teder said that the current legal framework does not ensure adequate protection of the rights of de-facto cohabitation partners, and is thus contrary to the constitution, ETV reported.
In his view, the law needs to be changed to cover areas such as property ownership and legal succession.
The issue of registering same-sex partnerships has long been a bone of contention in Estonian politics, with the Centre Party supporting the idea, and the coalition partners generally of the opinion that current laws already provide enough protection. This latest development will push the issue onto center stage.
"Any kind of regulation is better than simply cohabitation. It's necessary to have social guarantees - the same rights that married couples have," said Madle Saluveer, press secretary for Young Gays of Estonia.
Same-sex marriages are legal in seven countries around Europe, while civil partnerships are legal in 13.