The Justice Ministry's new strategy document on civil partnerships would allow same-sex couples to register their union but not be allowed to adopt children.
Postimees reported that the white paper released this week does not pertain in any way to marriage, and does not extend the institution to same-sex couples. The document notes that a registered marriage provides the greatest measure of social security.
The paper deals with two other options: registered and unregistered cohabitation.
For registered cohabitants, one partner would have the right to become the adoptive parent of a child raised by the other partner as a single parent, but couples would not have equal rights to married couples to adopt children.
A question that remains open at the Ministry is whether the option of registered cohabitation would be open only to same-sex couples, Postimees said. The rationale for doing so, according to the ministry, would be that such couples are not allowed to marry in Estonia, and this would be the best way of protecting their interests. That was the route chosen by several Scandinavian countries - Denmark in 1989 - which have since changed over to the possibility to register gender-neutral marriage.
In France, gender-neutral registered partnership is popular and 60 percent of applicants are of different genders, but this has not reduced the popularity of marriage.
The ministry said it looks forward to receiving comments from political parties, interest groups, church leaders and the public by October 1.