The Estonian parliament has passed a law that will allow same-sex couples to officially get married, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas announced on Tuesday.
The move makes the Baltic state the first ex-Soviet republic to permit such marital unions.
The bill – which is an amendment to Estonia’s family law – was supported by 55 of 101 deputies, while 34 voted against it, according to Estonian public broadcaster ERR.
- “Everyone should have the opportunity to marry the person they love and want to connect their lives with. With this decision, we finally confirm our belonging to the Nordic countries and other democratic states in which this right is already guaranteed,” Kallas said ahead of the vote.
- “I’m proud of my country. We’re building a society where everyone’s rights are respected and people can love freely,” she wrote on Twitter after the bill passed.
Since 2014, Estonia has only allowed same-sex civil unions, which did not provide the same adoption rights and parental recognition that comes with marriage.
Under the new legislation, homosexual couples will now be able to legally adopt children thought the bill specifies, that they cannot have more than two parents.
- Aside from getting married, gay couples will also be able to register cohabitation, which gives people living together the right to make decisions on behalf of each other and receive benefits.
The bill will come into effect on January 1, 2024.
Estonia is the 15th member of the EU to officially recognize same-sex marriage and allow such couples to adopt children.
While homosexual activity is legalized across the entire territory of the bloc, there are still a number of countries, such as Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland, that hold constitutional bans on legally recognizing same-sex unions.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Kiev – which has repeatedly expressed its desire to join the EU – have also been fighting to legalize same-sex marriages in the country.
In March, Ukraine’s former deputy culture minister submitted a bill on gay relationships to the country’s parliament, arguing that it would both reward the service of LGBTQ soldiers and please Kiev’s foreign backers.
- Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has also noted that Ukraine is moving towards European standards and has stated that the justice ministry was working on enacting laws supporting same-sex civil partnerships in the country.