Marriage equality will be discussed at end of coalition negotiations
Marriage equality and the Registered Partnership Law's implementation acts will be discussed by politicians at the end of the coalition negotiations.
Data from the Liberal Citizen Foundation (Sihtasutuse Liberaalne Kodanik, SALK) published on Monday shows attitudes to same-sex marriage are roughly 50-50 for and against.
The survey, carried out online by pollster Norstat after the March 5 election, asked 1,000 respondents if they agreed with the statement "In my opinion, same-sex couples should have the right to marry".
The results show 29.3 percent of people picked "completely against" marriage for same-sex couples and 14.1 percent are "rather against" it. Combined this is 43.4 percent.
However, 24.6 percent choose "completely agree" and 20.3 percent "rather agreed", which totals 44.9 percent.
Additionally, 11.7 percent did not answer. The margin of error was 3.1 percent.
"Technically, yes, there was a little more support than opposition in this poll, but when you look at it, the difference was 1.5 percentage points, which is actually still within the margin of statistical error. What can be said about this poll is that there was essentially the same number of respondents for and against," SALK director Tarmo Jüristo told Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK).
Jüristo said two years ago considerably more people were against same-sex marriage. The corresponding data was collected when a referendum was being discussed by the Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition.
The topic is being discussed again as junior coalition partners the Social Democrats (SDE) support marriage equality and the passing of the implementation acts which would allow the current Registered Partnership Act to work better.
Eesti 200 also supports same-sex marriage but did not make it a manifesto pledge.
Reform, which has the most mandates in the new coalition, has said nothing is off the table for discussion during negotiations.
SDE's Raimond Kaljulaid said: "In much of Europe, in NATO countries, these decisions have been taken long ago, and their experience shows that once a change in the law is enacted, the issue loses its political relevance."
EKRE is still against legalizing same-sex marriage.
Party board member Siim Pohlak said the split is not as equal as the new data suggested and only those with a firm view were asked.
He told AK the issue should not be included in the coalition agreement.
"In my opinion, there are still far more pressing problems in the Republic of Estonia today that affect a larger number of people and that should be resolved as a matter of priority. The same question of subsistence, the recession, all of that. I hope that the coalition will still decide to tackle the important issues first," said Pohlak.
Negotiators have agreed to discuss marriage equality and the Registered Partnership Act at the end of discussions in the coming weeks.
The Registered Partnership Act was passed in 2014 and allows couples, regardless of gender, to enter into a civil union. It falls short of legalizing same-sex marriage.
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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright