After the Cohabitation Act's implementing acts passed the first reading in the Estonian Parliament on Wednesday by a single vote, Priit Sibul, the head of conservative IRL faction, took to social media to scold Maire Aunaste for voting against the unofficial party line. Aunaste was the only IRL MP to vote in support of the acts.
Before the vote on Wednesday afternoon, Aunaste had made it quite clear that she planned to vote in favor of the bill that would see the Cohabitation Act, which grants same-sex couples equal rights to married couples, put into practice.
“If I have to choose between the party and my family, my former colleagues, or the human kind in general, I'll be sure to vote according to my conscience and will by no means become a party soldier,” Aunaste told ERR, her former employer. She added that in her opinion, IRL is democratic enough not to force a decision on anyone.
However, faction head Sibul later wrote about his disappointment in Aunaste in Facebook, although acknowledging that all MPs are free in their choices. "Regardless, they have an opportunity to show respect to their party, fellow MPs and voters, especially if they themselves have almost none [Aunaste got 679 votes in the 2015 election – ed.]," he said. He added: "I'm not sure if someone who lacks that kind of respect should continue in IRL."
Sibul also said he respects those IRL MPs who abstained from voting. "In the end of the day, it was a complicated vote to cast. People may support the Cohabitation Act because of personal relations or for those close to them," he explained.
Sibul later apologized for his outburst. “My words were carried by initial emotional reactions to a law that has caused so much controversy and polarization in the society, and for which I harbor strong opinions,” he said in a press statement.
“I can confirm that Maire is a good colleague even if we don't always share the same opinions,” he added.
Editor: M. Oll