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Supreme Court: Same-sex couples have right to protection of family life

Same-sex couple. Photo is illustrative.
Same-sex couple. Photo is illustrative. Source: (Reuters/Scanpix)

In a decision made on Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Estonia clarified courts' jurisdiction in the matter of applying initial legal protection in residence permit disputes, saying that same-sex couples also have the right to the protection of family life.

The Supreme Court said that the law does not forbid issuing a residence permit for the duration of an ongoing court dispute for cohabiting with a spouse, including when it i a same-sex marriage entered into outside of Estonia.

Initial legal protection is a temporary measure which the court applies for the protection of the rights of the plaintiff for the duration of a court proceeding.

The Administrative Law Chamber of the Supreme Court emphasized that the Constitution does not state the right of same-sex couples to marry in Estonia, however the constitutional right to the protection of family life as well as the right to not be discriminated against does extend to same-sex couples. The cohabitation of same-sex couples is neither prohibited nor punishable by law in Estonia.

The state has a right to deny a foreigner the right to live with a family member in Estonia, but only if there is a reasonable case for doing so.

Registered partnership legislation passed, implementing acts still not adopted

While Estonia does not allow same-sex marriages, it recognizes same-sex marriages concluded elsewhere. The country's own gender-neutral Registered Partnership Act was passed on Oct. 9, 2014 — over two and a half years ago — and entered into force on Jan. 1, 2016 — nearly a year and a half ago — however its implementing acts have yet to be adopted by the Riigikogu.

The first reading of the act's implementing provisions took place on Nov. 25, 2015, after which it was decided that discussion of the provisions would continue in the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, where the most recent discussion on the matter took place on Jan. 21, 2016.

Commitee chairman Jaanus Karilaid (Center), found that the current Riigikogu would not be adopting the implementing provisions of the act, noting that taking up the issue now would only result in new confrontations and that there were many more pressing matters in society.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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