Constitutional committee votes marriage referendum off agenda

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Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Constitutional Committee (põhiseaduskomisjon) of the Riigikogu voted against the draft marriage referendum bill on Monday, removing it from the agenda. The chairman of Isamaa said committee member Siim Kiisler, who voted against holding a referendum, will temporarily be replaced so the bill can be put to a vote again.

Kiisler, a member of government coalition party Isamaa, voted in favor of removing the draft referendum bill from the Riigikogu's agenda. As the draft has not been added to the agenda, the future referendum will not be discussed in the Riigkogu for the time being which means plans for the vote cannot move forward.

Isamaa now plans to remove Kiisler from the committee in order to pass the vote and to bring the draft to the Riigikogu.

Chairman of Isamaa Helir-Valdor Seeder said he does not plan to permanently change Isamaa's representative to the committee, but the party is planning temporary changes. 

"If one or another member of the faction is not able to represent the views of the faction on some issues then, when voting on these bills, we will have to send another person to the Constitutional Committee," Seeder said, adding this has been done in the past.

"You cannot represent your own personal views in the committee, a member of the Riigikogu represents the faction in the committee," Seeder said. It is not yet known who will temporarily replace Kiisler.

Earlier this month Kiisler wrote on social media that he is against the holding of a marriage referendum, Postimees reported.

Members of Isamaa are divided on the issue, with members of Parempoolsed (the right-wingers) faction publically saying they do not want a referendum to be held while other members support it. Kiisler is a member of Parempoolsed. 

A vote - a referendum or non-binding plebiscite - on the concept of marriage is expected to take place in April 2021. It will ask if a definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman should be added to the Estonian constitution.

The SDE and Reform are against holding a vote on the subject of the concept of marriage. The SDE have promised to prevent the vote from being held and plan to table so many amendments that the Riigikogu will not be able to process the bill.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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