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Estonian government approves draft same-sex marriage act

Stenbock House, seat of the Estonian government.
Stenbock House, seat of the Estonian government. Source: Kaupo Kalda/ Stenbock House

The Government on Monday approved the draft act for the amendment of the Family Law Act and other acts to establish marriage equality and implement the Registered Partnership Act. The draft act will now be passed on to the Riigikogu for discussion.

Under the new amendments, marriage can be contracted between two adults irrespective of their sex and, in addition to marriage, people will also still have the opportunity to conclude a registered partnership contract.

A simplified procedure will also be established for the transfer from a registered partnership contract to marriage.

Additionally, amendments have been made to enable exercising the rights and obligations arising from the Registered Partnership Act.

The draft also specifies the regulation of succession in the Family Law Act in connection with the adoption right of same-sex couples.

The government also agreed on the protocol for passing the Registered Partnership Act's implementation acts.

The draft prescribes a procedure for making registry entries and ensures that several rights that are granted to legal spouses also extend to registered partners in practice.

The rights and obligations immediately arising from the Registered Partnership Act will remain the same as in the current regulation, including the right of registered partners to only adopt the children of their registered partner (second-parent adoption).

A registered partnership contract ensures the right of the registered partners to have a say in the decisions concerned with their partner and receive allowances and benefits, if necessary.

Those couples that have concluded a registered partnership contract will also be granted an opportunity to switch to marriage pursuant to a simplified procedure.

The Act is scheduled to enter into force on January 1, 2024.

Amendments required for making registry entries of the registered partnership contracts entered into in the period from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2023 before the entry into force of the remaining amendments will enter into force on October 1, 2023.

The drafts will now be discussed in the Riigikogu.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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