On Friday, the Riigikogu board initated proceedings for a bill presented by 19 MPs that would equate a registered partnership contract to a marriage union.
The bill was presented by 10 Center MPs and nine of the 10 opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) MPs. The bill would subsume registered partnership contracts, implemented from October 9, 2014, and regulated by the Registered Partnership Act into the Family Law Act, rendering the Registered Partnership Act, also known as the cohabitation act, off the statute book.
The bill follows the scrapping of a planned referendum on the definition of marriage, which in turn fell by the wayside largely with the resignation of Jüri Ratas as prime minister earlier in the week, and consequently the exit of the Center-EKRE-Isamaa coalition.
The bill's explanatory memorandum notes that the Registered Partnership Act entered into force on January 1, 2016, during the era of prime minister Taavi Rõivas, but the law has still not reached its initially planned effects, i.e. granting legal recognition to non-married, cohabiting couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex. While the bill passed, it lacked the required legislation to be fully enacted.
Additionally, there are still amendments to various other laws that have not been implemented but which would provide people with registered partnerships similar rights to those who are married (with certain exceptions: Adoption, for example). Affected individuals have had to turn to the courts to uphold their rights. This, however is extremely taxing to those individuals, it is argued.
For these reasons, registered partnership contracts so far concluded would be placed on an equal footing with marriage. The draft law would grant people with registered partnership contracts the same rights as married couples, provided there is no other exception under current law. The bill also states that clergy are not required to confirm the signing of a registered partnership contract.
The leading committee of the bill is the Riigikogu's legal affairs committee. The bill was presented by Center MPs Andrei Korobeinik, Oudekki Loone, Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski, Martin Repinski, Kaido Höövelson, Imre Sooäär, Jaanus Karilaid, Aadu Must, Natalia Malleus and Enn Eesmaa, along with SDE MPs Helmen Kütt, Eduard Odinets, Riina Sikkut, Kalvi Kõva, Ivari Padar, Jaak Juske, Heljo Pikhof, Indrek Saar and Jevgeni Ossinovski.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste