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Supreme Court: Registered Partnership Act part of Estonia's legal order

The Supreme Court of Estonia in Tartu.
The Supreme Court of Estonia in Tartu. Source: Postimees/Scanpix

Even though implementing provisions have yet to be passed for the Registered Partnership Act, the law nonetheless entered into effect on Jan. 1, 2016 and is part of Estonia's legal order, the Supreme Court of Estonia ruled on Tuesday.

According to the Supreme Court, the gender-neutral Registered Partnership Act not having implementing provisions does not constitute a reason for deeming the situation unconstitutional and the law is valid, the court ruling states.

Tallinn Circuit Court requested a constitutional review by the Supreme Court in connection with the matter. According to the circuit court, the Riigikogu breached the Constitution when it did not provide implementing provisions for the Registered Partnership Act, spokespeople for the Supreme Court said.

The Supreme Court ruled that the fact that the implementing provisions of the law have not yet been adopted is not enough to identify an unconstitutional gap, therefore the top court decided not to launch constitutional review proceedings.

As the Registered Partnership Act has taken effect and is valid, addressees can base the protection of their subjective rights on this. The court chamber said that although the Riigikogu did not make the necessary changes proceeding from the cohabitation law in other laws, this does not mean that courts are not obliged to implement the law in individual cases by solving conflicts deriving from different legal norms by basing their decisions on general legal principles. Courts have to interpret the law in a way which ensures a constitutional result.

Due to the aforementioned reasons and considering that the courts that launched constitutional review proceedings did not specify the absence of which legal norms prevented them from solving a court case in their opinion, the Supreme Court did not satisfy the request.

Delay of implementing acts measurable in years

Estonia does not allow same-sex marriages. The country's own gender-neutral Registered Partnership Act was passed three and a half years ago, on Oct. 9, 2014, and entered into force on Jan. 1, 2016 — over two years 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.

A bill initiated by the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) calling for the repeal of the Registered Partnership Act was voted down by the Riigikogu 47-19 with 20 abstentions on Oct. 17 last year.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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