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Estonia's first ever same-sex marriages take place

Wedding rings.
Wedding rings. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Estonia's first ever gender-neutral marriages took place on Friday, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reports.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in Estonia came into force on January 1, meaning couples could apply from that date to get formally married, while the administrative aspects of doing so take around a month.

Figures suggest that since the start of the year, around 50 gender-neutral or same-sex couples have applied to get married in Estonia's largest towns.

Four of these couples got married at the Õnnepalee registry office in Tartu on Friday, February 2, all of them having applied at the first available opportunity, ie. on January 1, AK reported.

Leena and Kristin, tying the knot on Friday, told AK they saw no reason to wait any longer to get married.

"It is a bit of a strange feeling, given we had been waiting for so long. At the same time, it comes as a great relief, as if a rock had been lifted from the heart – that this is now truly possible. Certainly it's a strange feeling inside that this is even possible in Estonia, though it's really great, too," they told AK.

The young couple has been planning their future lives together for several years, and noted the guaranteed rights that came alongside the formal marriage, including buying a home.

"If something happens to anyone, all these things are in one way or another guaranteed by marriage," Leena and Kristin, who are celebrating the union at home with a few friends, went on.

Another couple, Kairi and Kätri, also got married in Tartu on Friday and held a large reception party with friends and family.

"We already have all the contracts legally signed, though I don't think same-sex couples necessarily have the highest expectations or demands as straight couples who marry for love," the pair told AK.

"We're the same way though – we just wanted to get married because we'd been sharing the same bread from the same cupboard for a long time, so we think it's the next, nice step," they added.

The bill making same-sex marriage legal in Estonia passed at the Riigikogu last summer, and came into legal force on the first day of this year.

Prior to that, a registered partnership act had allowed for some legal guarantees to cohabiting couples, regardless of their genders, but this stopped short of full same-sex marriage rights and, in any case, had been mired in technicalities for several years and was not fully in force.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Ode Maria Punamäe.

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