It is time for the state to make changes to the law

In ten years, the Human Rights Centre has commissioned five public opinion surveys on LGBT rights. Since the first survey in 2012, the attitudes of the Estonian people have become significantly more positive and more and more people support LGBT rights. The biggest change that has taken place in the last two years, and the latest survey published on Wednesday shows that the Registered Partnership Act is supported by 64 percent of the Estonian population.

As attitudes become more positive, fear of discrimination remains a real problem in the LGBT community. A survey published by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights last year showed that 39 percent of Estonian LGBT people had experienced discrimination in the year before the survey, for example at work, when looking for a home, in a shop or at some other public place. But we all have the right to equal treatment and a life free from discrimination.

The principle of equal treatment is, on the one hand, laws and the possibility of obtaining protection under those laws, but it is much more about humanity. We are home to people of different nationalities, young and old, Christians and Muslims, people in wheelchairs and those whose families are two people of the same sex. The Equal Treatment Act recognizes all of these people, but today’s law offers less protection based on religion, age, disability, or sexual orientation. The lack of implementing acts for the Registered Partnership Act is also a clear example of the fact that LGBT people are only partially guaranteed their rights. Therefore, families have also needed to go to court. For example, the Supreme Court declared the part of the Social Tax Act that excludes the payment of social tax to a person raising a child under the age of 8, who is maintained by his or her registered partner, unconstitutional. The Supreme Court found that a family is a family, i.e. families in a similar situation must be treated equally.

Different personal stances and worldviews go hand in hand with democracy, but at the national level, there is no justification for differentiating between our own people. Thus, it is high time for the state to take steps to adopt the necessary legislative changes.

The comment was originally published on June 10 on the EPL opinion website.

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