The Estonian Greens' petition in support of same-sex marriage hosted on the Citizen Initiative Portal rahvaalgatus.ee is the most-signed in the website's history. As of noon on Tuesday, the petition has gathered more than 30,000 signatures.
The petition launched by the non-parliamentary Estonian Greens party is calling for the Family Act to be amended to allow for same-sex marriage in Estonia. As it has gathered over 1,000 signatures, it is likely now to be debated in the Riigikogu.
Kadri Org, democracy expert at the Estonian Cooperation Assembly/ Rahvaalgatus.ee, told ERR News on Monday that "Petitsioon perekonnaseaduse muutmiseks" is the most-signed petition in the history of rahvaalgatus.ee website.
"Rahvaalgatus.ee has been operating for four-and-a half-years from March 2016 and since then, 51 collective proposals have been drafted and sent to the Riigikogu through the platform. Most of the collective proposals that have been sent to the Riigikogu have received a few thousand signatures maximum. The second-highest number of supportive signatures that a petition has received is slightly over 7,000," she said.
The petition with over 7,000 signatures was related to animal rights, and a petition to end fur farming in Estonia, which was recently debated by Riigikogu members, gathered over 6,000.
The Rahvaalgatus.ee portal allows people to write proposals, hold discussions, compose and send digitally signed collective addresses to the Riigikogu. Proposals can be submitted to the Riigikogu to amend existing regulations or improve society.
"As a result of the collective proposals sent during the four and a half years that the platform rahvaalgatus.ee has been operating, many laws, directives and policies have been amended and introduced," Org said.
The Greens' petition is open until December 24 and once the appeal has been handed over to the Riigikogu, it will be checked to see whether it complies with the law. After that, the Board of the Riigikogu will appoint a steering committee, which will discuss the appeal.
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.
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.
Survey: Most Estonian citizens against amending law to allow same-sex marriages
According to a poll taken for the Institute of Societal Studies in summer, 55 percent of Estonian citizens are against amending the Family Act to allow for marriages between people of the same sex.
In the survey conducted by Norstat Eesti AS interviewing 1,000 adult citizens of Estonia in the first half of June, respondents were asked to say how much they agree with the statement that the Family Act should be amended to allow for marriages between gay couples.
The responses that respondents could choose from were "I fully agree," "I rather agree," "I rather do not agree" and "I absolutely do not agree." The fifth option available was "I cannot say."
"I fully agree" and "I rather agree" responses accounted for 38 percent of the total number of responses, versus "I rather don't agree" and "I absolutely don't agree" responses making up 55 percent combined. Respondents who didn't have a definitive opinion on the issue made up 7 percent.
When looking at the party preferences of the respondents, it showed that voters of the ruling coalition members Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), the Center Party and Isamaa were against changing the Family Act, whereas voters of the opposition parties Reform Party and the Social Democratic Party (SDE), as well as of the non-parliamentary Estonia 200, were inclined to support the notion that the Family Act should be changed.
The Family Act currently states in its opening section that "a marriage is contracted between a man and a woman."
Editor: Helen Wright