The equality initiative petition launched by the Estonian Green party for validating same sex marriages in the country is gaining momentum with over 33,000 signatures collected by October 29. The petition demands that the Estonian parliament, Riigikogu, amend the provision for marriage under the family law act to be a union between two adults, irrespective of their gender. Various political groups, including Estonia 200 and Noored Sotsiaaldemokraadid (Young Social Democrats)- the youth wing of the Social Democratic Party (SDE), have offered strong support for the cause and endorsed the petition.
The Green party and other like-minded groups are pushing for this equality initiative in the wake of a nationwide referendum on marriages proposed by the incumbent coalition government led by the Estonian Centre Party. Through the referendum, the government intends to constitutionally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The move was prompted by the demands of the far-right Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE), which is part of the incumbent coalition government
Since January 2016, same-sex couples in Estonia can register their relationship as a cohabitation agreement, but are unable to marry or jointly adopt.
Regarding the equality initiative, Piret Räni, member of the Estonian Greens Council said, “human rights of all people and a society of solidarity are important to us, where no one can be repressed, hated or discriminated against on the basis of nationality, race, color, sex, language, origin, religion, political or other beliefs, property and social rights, status or other circumstances, as enshrined in our Constitution. Because all Estonians are our own people and they must have equal opportunities – also the opportunity to marry another person you love.”
“Because if we..bully one section of our people, another section will be bullied next. See what’s happening in Poland! We do not want populist conservatives to ruin our friendly Estonia and also put hatred of women next on the agenda….we must act together united and not look for enemies among our own people,” she added.
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) Indrek Saar also supported marriage equality in the party council and appreciated its youth wing’s (Noored Sotsiaaldemokraadid) campaign towards the cause. He stated that “tolerance, caring and openness have always been the core values of the Social Democrats. For the last year and a half, these values have been in serious danger in Estonia. The entry of extremists into government, the government’s steps in restricting the rights of minorities, and the statements inciting anger by government members endanger the security of thousands of Estonians and their families and unacceptably infringe on their dignity. Therefore, those who stand for a free society and equal rights for all must stand even stronger and clearer for their values and principles.”
Earlier in this month, protests were organized in Tallinn and Tartu by Noored Sotsiaaldemokraadid and various LGBT groups against the referendum on marriage proposed by the coalition government. Meanwhile, in neighboring Latvia, on October 29, the parliament rejected a motion to legalize same-sex partnerships which was also prompted by a popular initiative.