Finland’s Parliament Debates Gay Marriage Bill
Finland's parliament began debating a bill Thursday that will permit same-sex couples to marry.
Gay Star News reports, although the legislation has been defeated in the past, this time around, politicians are discussing the bill on the will of the people; what is known as a "citizen's initiative."
"We are not really a modern, equal country," Secretary General for Finland gay rights group Seta, Aija Salo, told Gay Star News. "People have thought we have already reached LGBT equality, and what are people whining about?"
Finland is the only Scandinavian country without same-sex marriage laws, and the citizens have apparently had enough of this disparity. They have filed a petition, which requires that 50,000 supporters signal their support within six months. The marriage equality bill reportedly achieved nearly 100,000 signatures in only 24 hours.
"I hope that MPs will listen to the call of the people. It is an important signal of equal rights for Finland," said Salo.
The final tally was at 166,000 names. The country has widespread support for marriage equality, with recent polls revealing a 58 percent support. Currently, same-sex couples can register their partnership, but they have limited rights, and cannot co-adopt their partner's children.
Similar legislation was opposed last year by Finns Party, Christian Democrat, Centre and National Coalition MPs. This year, about 42,000 citizens have signed a petition that opposes any legislative changes, as reported by YLI.
YLI also reports that this year's proposal was presented to speaker of Parliament Eero Heinäluoma in December. After the initial debate on Thursday it will pass once again to the Legal Affairs Committee.
"People realize it is not so, it is not easy, and the big parties are not taking responsibility for making this country a better place," said Salo in Gay Star News. "I really hope Finland will follow suit after the UK, France, states in the US, and all of the other countries that have already introduced equal marriage laws."