A petition by the non-parliamentary Estonian Greens party calling for the Family Act to be amended to allow for same-sex marriages has been signed by 14,500 people and will be debated in the Riigikogu.
By 10.30 p.m. the petition had received over 14,500 signatures meaning it will be presented to the Riigikogu for debate, after crossing the 1,000 signatures threshold. The petition can be signed until December 24 and will then be handed to speaker of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE).
Once the appeal has been handed over, the parliament checks whether it complies with the law. After that, the Board of the Riigikogu appoints a steering committee, which will discuss the appeal.
"Society has given an extremely clear message which can no longer be overlooked," said one of the leaders of the Greens, Kaspar Kurve, commenting on the speed at which the petition made available for signing in the rahvaalgatus.ee portal was being supported.
"We are very glad to see the petition being signed and distributed also by people who are members of other political parties, which clearly demonstrates that common values are bigger than day-to-day politics," Kurve said.
Züleyxa Izmailova, the party's second leader, said: "Our aim is to put an end, by amending the law, to discrimination against people, which may be our last chance to defend same-sex couples with the Family Act."
She pointed out that according to Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, it will be no longer possible for the Riigikogu after the referendum on the definition of marriage in spring 2021 to amend the Family At without a new referendum.
"Let us send a message to the government together that Estonia is an open, solidarity-based and emphatic country where the rights of minorities are protected," Izmailova said.
At present, Section 1 of the Family Act says that a marriage is contracted between a man and a woman.
The Estonian Greens say they support marriage between two adult people, regardless of their gender.
ERR News reported earlier on Saturday that by 1.20 p.m. the petition had received 7,824 signatures.
Next year a referendum is due to be held on the concept of marriage which will ask voters if they want to change the Constitution to add a definition stating marriage can only be between one man and one woman.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Estonia.
Editor's note: This article was updated to add the new figures valid at 10 p.m. on October 24.
Editor: Helen Wright