Estonia's marriage equality bill completed and awaiting feedback

Tallinn Vital Statistics Office on Pärnu mnt., a popular wedding venue.
Tallinn Vital Statistics Office on Pärnu mnt., a popular wedding venue. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Ministry of Social Affairs on Thursday sent out for coordination draft legislation to allow two adult persons to get married irrespective of their gender. The possibility of entering into registered partnership agreements will also be retained.

While Estonia passed the Registered Partnership Act back in 2014, its implementing provisions, or other amendments necessary for its full implementation, were shelved for years.

Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform) said that this culminated in years of unnecessary court cases, while this confusion will now end. The government also wants to introduce marriage equality in allowing two adults to get married irrespective of their gender.

"Marriage equality, allowing same-sex couples to get married and qualify for full legal protection, is a step forward on the road to equality," she said.

The words "man and woman" will be replaced with the words "two natural persons" where the Family Act treats with marriage.

People will also be able to enter into registered partnerships. This will give the sides the right to have a say in the other person's decisions and qualify for support and benefits. Couples that have a valid registered partnership agreement can get married in simplified procedure.

Marriage and registered partnership come with rights and obligations which are not shared by unregistered couples. These mostly concern matters of benefits, property, housing and filiation. For example, the death of a registered partner or spouse entitles their partner to a part of their estate if their last will and testament does not stipulate otherwise.

A spouse or registered partner is also able to communicate their partner's will and intentions in a situation where the latter is unconscious or otherwise unable to make medical or other decisions.

The Social Ministry has given other ministries and organizations until May 9 to provide feedback.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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