Government to send Names Act amendment back to ministry

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Wedding rings. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The government has decided controversial draft legislation to amend the Names Act - the main piece of legislation dealing with personal naming conventions - back to the Ministry of the Interior.

State secretary Taimar Peterkop signed a resolution on February 3 which ends the preparations of the draft.

The name law has provoked a lot of discussion in society. Same-sex couples living together wouldn't be able to take each one another's surnames, for example, and children couldn't take both their parents' surnames, if these were different. The intention of the draft had also been to prevent people, via valid penalty, from changing their name along such lines.

Taimar Peterkop has referred to the decision a formality, one which is common when a new government takes office as recently happened, and which needn't mean that the government won't continue with the draft whatsoever.

"The Ministry of the Interior will reevaluate whether they think it necessary to continue with the draft, then they will bring it back to the government for review. Since there is no minister of the population in the new government, we sent the draft back to the Ministry of the Interior," Peterkop told ERR.

The last administration had a minister for population affairs, Riina Solman (Isamaa), whose role fell under the interior ministry's remit, but this post was dispensed with by the Reform/Center coalition that entered office last month.

Peterkop added that the previous government's more technical and simpler initiatives will indeed continue, but that all more complex or fundamental issues in process when it left office will be reviewed by the new administration and, if necessary, the legislation will be sent to the responsible ministry for recasting.

It is not yet decided which drafts will be affected, as the work is ongoing.

"At the moment, it is not known whether, and which, drafts can still be returned. Last week's sitting also planned for drafts initiated by the previous government. In addition, the drafts are currently being reviewed by the ministries themselves," Liis Velsker, the government's press adviser, added.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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