Former president Rüütel: Same-sex marriage would polarize Estonian society

Arnold Rüütel.
Arnold Rüütel. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Legalizing same-sex marriage would divide and polarize Estonian society, meaning its implementation must not be rushed, Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) Honorary Chair Arnold Rüütel says.

Rüütel, a former president of Estonia, made his remarks before the EKRE congress held in Pärnu Saturday to elect its new leader – in the event Martin Helme was returned by a wide margin over Peeter Ernits.

The party's honorary chair, who recently celebrated his 95th birthday, also warned against what he sees as the threat of migratory pressures, and also called for a return to the local government system that was in place in Estonia in the years immediately following the restoration of independence.

Former president Rüütel said: "As of today, we can state that the adoption of this law would lead to a great division in our society. The question then arises – why do we want to do this so hastily right now?" 

"Our Riigikogu is preparing to adopt the same-sex marriage law. However, such decisions should not be made without the strong backing of our citizenry. Statistics reveal that out of 193 UN countries, only 32 states have adopted a law of this kind, and the Baltic states are not among these, yet."

Former president Rüütel also had this to say about the current situation in Europe: "We live in a situation where there is a deadly war in Europe. It is difficult to foresee the aggressive plans which emanate from our neighbor. I am convinced that we will, however, continue to be able to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country."

The EKRE honorary chairman in his presentation also highlighted what he referred to as Estonia's parlous demographic situation and low birth rates, as well as potential migration pressures, all as major issues of concern.

On a different tack, he also drew attention to the difficult financial situation in the local municipalities, and proposed the restoration of a two-tier form of local government as a solution.

Overall, "the choice of our ancestors to stay here on this side of the Gulf of Finland was undoubtedly the right one. The Estonian language and the four seasons have shielded us from a great mixing of nationalities," Rüütel stated.

"But, moving now to the global level, scientists have calculated that to feed the world's population, we need approximately 0.2 hectares of arable land per inhabitant. In Estonia, the figure is already more than three times higher than that. This means there is no doubt that migratory pressure on Estonia will increase manifold, over the next half-century," he went on.

An effective conservative think-tank involving his party was also needed, Rüütel said.

ERR's online news in Estonian published the entire address in Estonian here.

A former member of the Communist Party and chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR in the years leading up to the restoration of Estonian independence and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Arnold Rüütel was independent Estonia's second president after 1991, and was in office 2001-2006. An apparent interest in cryonics is among the many strings he has to his bow.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

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