On Tuesday 20 June, the Estonian Parliament reached a historic decision to legalise same-sex marriage by adopting amendments to the Family Law Act. The new law, tabled by the coalition government led by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of ALDE Party member Reformierakond, was adopted with a majority of 55 votes in favour.
As of 1 January 2024, any two consenting adults in Estonia will be able to marry, irrespective of sex. The law proposes cohabitation agreements as an alternative to marriage, establishing a simplified procedure for the transition from a cohabitation agreement to marriage and including necessary legal provisions for the implementation of the Cohabitation Act.
The proposal also clarifies the Family Law Act's regulation of parenthood in regard to same-sex couples' adoption rights. A same-sex spouse will be able to adopt their spouse's child with the consent of the biological parent, who will primarily retain the child's rights and duties.
“Everyone should have the right to marry the person they love and want to commit to. With this decision we are finally stepping among other Nordic countries as well as all the rest of the democratic countries in the world where marriage equality has been granted,” said Kallas.
Estonian Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo, also from Reformierakond, said: “I am genuinely very grateful for the patience and understanding the LGBT+ community has shown for all these years...I am delighted that the decision has now been taken for a more forward-looking Estonia that cares for all.”
With the vote, Estonia becomes the first Baltic nation and 20th European country to legalise same-sex marriage.
It's official: #Estonia has legalised marriage equality. We join other Nordic nations with this historic decision.— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) June 20, 2023
I'm proud of my country. We're building a society where everyone’s rights are respected and people can love freely.
The decision will enter into force from 2024. pic.twitter.com/tQJdO70eEo