The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) is, at least on a temporary basis, to stop registering marriages in church, once the recently-passed amendments to the Family Law Act which make same-sex marriage in Estonia legal come into force, daily Postimees reports.
Archbishop Urmas Viilma, head of the EELK, told Postimees English-language page that: "If we officiate gender-neutral marriages on behalf of the state, while in the church we bless and officiate marriages that are between a man and a woman, are we dealing with two different marriages?
"If so, how will this be reflected, for example, in the documents that the clergy must receive from those getting married?" he went on.
Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform) said the EELK and other churches were free to make their own decision on the issue, adding that : "The Family Law Act provides the opportunity for marriage to be officiated by clergy members who have undergone the corresponding civil registrar preparation, but it does not oblige to do it."
Riisalo qualified her words by stating that family law falls under the aegis of the Ministry of Justice, whose formal position she is not aware of; Riisalo said her personal opinion is that the church is free in its own decisions.
The amendments to the Family Law Act legalizing same-sex marriage in Estonia come into force on January 1, 2024.
Editor: Andrew Whyte