Outgoing prime minister and Center Party Chairman Jüri Ratas said the party did not start proceedings for the legalization of same-sex marriage after submitting a bill last week which equates a cohabitation agreement with marriage.
"Last week 10 members of the Center Party participated in the initiation of a cross-party draft of a section of the Family Law, but it does not change the content and concept of traditional marriage in any way and does not mean the legalization of same-sex marriage," Ratas wrote on social media on Monday.
"The allegations that we have initiated the legalization of same-sex marriage are malicious and political misconceptions. The Estonian Center Party continues to support marriage as a union between a man and a woman," Ratas said.
Last Friday, the Board of the Riigikogu accepted a bill submitted by 19 members of the Riigikogu, 10 from the Center Party and nine from the Social Democratic Party, which included a clause equating a cohabitation agreement with marriage. This initiator of the draft was Center Party member Imre Sooäär.
The draft seeks to include the cohabitation agreement regulated by the Cohabitation Act, also known as the Registered Partnership Act which was adopted in October 2014, into the Family Law.
The bill's explanatory memorandum notes that the Registered Partnership Act entered into force on January 1, 2016 but the law has not worked as intended, such as 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.
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: Helen Wright