Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) says that the process of enacting an act which would provide same-sex couples as such with legal rights should continue, news portal Delfi reports.
Ratas' stance is in direct conflict with that of coalition party the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), with leader of the third coalition party, Isamaa, acting as mediator on the matter.
The Registered Partnership Act, also known colloquially as the cohabitation act, passed under the administration of Ratas' predecessor as prime minister, Taavi Rõivas (Reform). While it does not allow for same-sex marriage, it is seen as a step in that direction. However, it requires implementation legislation which has foundered ever since then.
"When thinking about this whole debate, it seems to me that we are increasingly coming to understand in Estonian society that we really need to adopt implementing acts for the Cohabitation Act for legal clarity and certainly on this debate, which has been taking place in many other countries as well on the issue of marriage, that this debate will continue in this sense, " Ratas told portal Delfi on Thursday.
Ratas added that the recent discussion on a planned referendum on the definition of marriage brought the issue back into the limelight.
"Since we are now talking about this marriage referendum, that had to start somewhere – and it began with the coalition negotiations, where at one point there had been a desire to repeal the cohabitation law, but this was not supported by the Center Party," Ratas noted.
"The fact that we have had five or six years since the Cohabitation Act was passed and during which legal clarity has not yet been resolved, the implementing acts not adopted; I think that legal clarity would be very desirable here," Ratas went on, adding that the outcome of the planned referendum would not affect the Registered Partnership Act or its implementation.
Isamaa chair: Cohabitation act will not be on cabinet agenda either way
Speaking at the same press conference Thursday, Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder, whose party is in office with Center and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) – Seeder is not a minister but is deputy president of the Riigikogu – said that notwithstanding the prime minister's views, the issue would not be on the agenda for the current administration.
At the same time, this meant that EKRE's call to repeal the act would not be on the table either.
"When concluding the coalition agreement (in April 2019 – ed.), we agreed that, due to differing viewpoints, we will not be involved in repealing the cohabitation act or adopting implementing acts," Seeder said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte