Around 300 people gathered in Tallinn's Vadaduse väljak (Freedom Square) Sunday in protest against a planned referendum on defining marriage within the constitution as being between one man and one woman. The protest came in the wake of remarks about LGBT+ people by interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) appearing in the international media Friday.
The protest, titled "Everyone has the right to marry" ("Kõigi õigus abielule") and whose supporters also called for the legalization of gender-neutral marriage, passed off largely peaceably, with one reported incident leading to a minor injury and an individual being detained by Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) personnel.
A similar demonstration in Tartu at the beginning of the month saw about 150 protesters supporting the same changes.
"As we can see, since the last demonstration, [political parties] the Greens and Estonia 200 have both made statements affirming support of marriage for all. This shows quite simply that Estonian society has changed and that this has already helped," said protest organizer Karl Aaron Adson, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.
Organizers of Sunday's protest included the youth wing of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE).
The event came in the wake of remarks interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) made to German international public broadcaster Deutsche Welle's (DW) Russian-language service published Friday, in which he said that he looked at LGBT+ people in an "unfriendly manner" and suggested they relocate to Sweden, where he said the atmosphere may be more amenable to them. Helme, whose comments attracted widespread condemnation including from prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center Party), has since said his words had been misrepresented.
A group of counter-protesters on Sunday, largely made up of youths, attempted to disturb the main protest with demonstrations of their own, using various hand-written placards. The group of counter-demonstrators had initially been engulfed with protesters from the main event, leading to a minor scuffle, after which PPA personnel were called.
Head of the PPA city center area department Aleksei Veetlev said that the police took down the details of the group allegedly provoking the fracas, before sending them on their way.
"A small scuffle took place away from the main area, which led to one person receiving minor injuries. We have started a criminal investigation and we took one individual to the police station to ascertain what happened," Veetlev said.
The protest's main organizers were the Noored Sotsiaaldemokraadid – the SDE's youth wing – along with those from most of the other main political parties in Estonia, the Estonian LGBT union, and several volunteers and representatives of cultural or festival organizations.
Editor: Andrew Whyte