October 9, Tallinn – Estonia made history today when the country’s parliament passed the gender-neutral Civil Partnership Act on a close vote of 40 to 38. The new law acknowledges civil unions for all couples, regardless of the gender of the partners, and grants same-sex couples rights and responsibilities similar to a marriage between a heterosexual couple.
“The Civil Partership Act is another step closer to a more tolerant and socially inclusive society. I am extremely thankful to my colleagues who supported the bill as real statesmen in spite of strong opposition, and who stood for democracy and human rights even under great pressure,” Imre Sooäär, the MP and the initiator of the Act said.
Peeter Rebane, a London-based film director and advocate for the Act is satisfied with the result: “It was a long fight for us to achieve something so basic and obvious. This act will guarantee the same-sex couples their fundamental rights that so-called traditional couples take for granted – a right to establish a family with the loved one, raise children, and enjoy financial benefits equal to married couples.”
“By passing this law, Estonia made a leap towards a society that is more free, more equal and values human rights for all. The thousands of individuals who each in their own courageous way spoke out and took a stand for human rights and equality are an inspiration not only to everyone in Estonia but to other peoples and states in the region,” said Kari Käsper, Head of the Estonian Human Rights Centre, a human rights watchdog NGO.
The Civil Partnership Act will come into effect on January 1, 2016.
The Estonian Human Rights Centre is an independent human rights advocacy NGO dedicated to the advancement and protection of human rights in Estonia.
The Estonian LGBT Association is the official representative of LGBT citizens in Estonia. It focuses on informing the general public about LGBT people, sexual education, and advancing LGBT rights.
SEKY is a NGO that focuses on protecting and advocating for the LGBT community’s rights in Estonia and representing their interests in court.
Peeter Rebane, Film director and equal rights advocate, ph: +44 (77) 32188619, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kari Käsper, Executive Director, Estonian Human Rights Centre, ph: +372 5622 5486 , e-mail: email@example.com
Imre Sooäär, Member of the Parliament, ph: +372 512 2328, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Helen Talalaev, President, Estonian LGBT Association, ph: +372 5649 9330, e-mail: email@example.com
Reimo Mets, Chairman, NGO SEKY, ph: +372 5680 0890, email: firstname.lastname@example.org