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Majority of Estonian residents support same-sex marriage

A protest in support of same-sex marriage in Tallinn in 2020.
A protest in support of same-sex marriage in Tallinn in 2020. Source: Helen Wright /ERR

The majority of people living in Estonia support the right of same-sex couples to get married, new polling shows. The biggest rise has come from non-Estonian residents.

Overall, 53 percent of respondents supported same-sex marriage compared to 47 percent in the last survey carried out in 2021.

65 percent of people said same-sex couples should have the right to register their partnership, which has been legal in Estonia since 2015, up 1 percent on 2021.

The poll was commissioned by the Estonian Human Rights Center and carried out by Turu-uuringute AS.

"Considering that 34 percent of people were in favor and 60 percent were against marriage equality in 2012, progress over the decade has been rapid and one-way," said Executive Director of the Human Rights Center Egert Rünne in a statement.

Same-sex partners should have the opportunity to officially register their partnership according to the Registered Partnership Act. Source: Estonian Human Rights Center

The survey has been carried out every two years since 2012 and the most recent was in April 2023 when discussions about legalizing same-sex marriage had been raised by the coalition.

Liis Grünberg, Research Manager at Turu-uuringute AS, said: "The latest developments are primarily related to changes in the opinions of the population whose native language is not Estonian – among them, the share of those in favor of marriage equality has almost doubled compared to 2019 [from 22% to 40%]."

Data from this year's survey shows that there is a sizable gap between Estonian speakers and non-Estonian speakers' views on same-sex marriage.

While 58 percent of Estonian speakers support the act, the figure is 40 percent of non-Estonian speakers.

The amount of support is higher for registered partnerships, 50 percent for non-Estonian speakers and 71 percent for Estonian speakers.

Attitudes of Estonian and non-Estonian speakers. Source: Estonian Human Rights Center

Following trends elsewhere, support for same-sex marriage is highest among young people.

"Support of marriage equality among people aged 20-29 is 75 percent," said Rünne. "This is a clear message to political parties: if they want to attract younger voters, they have to stand up for the human rights of all people in Estonia."

Support among Estonian residents for adoption has also increased significantly over the last two years. More than half of the population believes that a same-sex partner should be able to adopt their partner's child.

Kelly Grossthal, head of the center's Strategic Litigation, said: "The results of the survey show that an increasing number of people understand that family is family, regardless of whether children are raised by a father and mother, mother and mother or two fathers."

In total, 1,001 respondents took part in the survey, which was supported by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The margin of error is 3.1 percent.

The new Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition has already drafted amendments to the law that would legalize same-sex marriage. The government is awaiting feedback on the bill from MPs.

The move is supported by all three coalition parties and the opposition Center Party.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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