The head of the management board of the Praxis Center for Policy Studies will resign at the end of the year to focus on creating a platform to launch a "no" campaign against the planned plebiscite on the concept of marriage next year.
Tarmo Jüristo's term at Praxis was due to last until August 2021 but he will leave the position in December.
Jüristo told ERR there are plans to create a platform which can be used to start coordinating the "no" campaign which would be against changing the constitution to add a definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. In comparison, the "yes" campaign will argue in favor of adding a definition of marriage to the constitution.
"The aim is to free up time and to commit to coordinating different parties who are on the 'no' side, so to speak," he said.
He said funding agreements have been reached for the launch of the platform, but the money has not yet been credited. He emphasized that in future the funding of the platform would be fully transparent.
Jüristo said the goal is to raise at least €100,000 to carry out the campaign.
"We want to take the campaign seriously. If there's already one team on the field, there should also be a second one. A substantial and respectful debate should not be held alone," Jüristo said.
He said so far approximately a dozen people are actively involved who could be considered employees. There are about 100 people with whom cooperation is planned and who want to contribute.
The coalition plans to hold a vote on marriage in April 2021.
Earlier this month, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said the "yes" campaign had already started.
"Everyone, no matter how different can vote "yes" because saying "yes" is not intolerance, saying is "yes" simply means supporting marriage as it is today," he wrote.
A referendum on the concept of marriage was agreed in the coalition agreement (page 30) when the government was formed in March 2019. Pushed by EKRE, it would seek to add a definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman to the constitution.
EKRE wanted a referendum to be held at the same time as local government elections on October 17, 2021 but the government has now agreed to hold it in April 2021 instead.
EKRE initially suggested the question could be phrased: "Are you in support of a proposal to supplement the Estonian Constitution § 27 with the sentence 'Marriage is a lasting union between one man and one woman?" but the coalition did not agree.
While the vote's exact wording has not been agreed upon by the coalition, It would likely be a straight "yes" or "no" question.
Opposition politicians are opposed to the vote, with Reform Party leader Kaja Kallas calling it "an EKRE provocation others should not join", while the chairman of the Social Democrats (SDE) Indrek Saar has called it a "hate referendum". Non-parliamentary parties Estonian Greens and Estonia 200 are also against the referendum having said: "We believe that same-sex couples should be able to marry on equal grounds in Estonia".
Currently, legal debates are ongoing to determine whether the vote will be a referendum "rahvahääletus" or plebiscite "rahvaküsitlus" and how or if it will be legally binding.
Only Estonian citizens will be able to vote in a referendum.
Editor: Helen Wright