Estonia will become the first post-Soviet state to support same-sex marriages
The coalition government of Estonia has passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriages, and LGBT+ activists are hopeful that the Estonian Parliament will support it.
This information is reported by Euractiv.
Sille Oja and her partner agreed to a civil union after losing hope of ever being able to marry in Estonia. Now, the couple dares to dream of wedding bells, as their tiny Baltic country seems poised to become the first post-Soviet state to legalize same-sex marriages.
"For me, it's very emotional because my country, my state tells me, 'We respect you'," said the 46-year-old communications expert, recalling their civil union in 2022.
"We wanted to get married, but there were no other options then, no promises of marriage equality," Oja said.
In 2014, Estonia introduced same-sex civil unions, which do not provide the same rights for adoption and parental recognition that come automatically with marriage.
"This law makes you feel like a second-class citizen," said Oja.
Now she hopes that everything will change, and that this bill will serve as a lesson for Moscow regarding the direction its former states are moving in.
The vote is scheduled to take place early next week, and LGBT+ activists hope that the Estonian Parliament will support the government's bill, which will allow gay and lesbian couples to marry and obtain the same rights as heterosexual couples.
"Adopting marriage equality is the final milestone on Estonia's path to a truly open and equal society and European values, shedding the last shackles of the tragic past of the Soviet regime and repression," said Vootel Pai, an independent political analyst and former advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs.
The marriage bill follows previous steps to grant greater rights to LGBT+ Estonians.
According to analysts, Estonia's liberal coalition government has taken steps toward a marriage law project to distance itself from neighboring Russia.
After Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, many fear that Estonia, as a member of NATO and the European Union and a staunch supporter of Ukraine, could be the next frontline.
Some also see broader symbolism in Estonia's desire to legalize same-sex marriages and demonstrate that its path lies to the West.
"In addition to the physical war with tanks and missiles, this is also a war between cultures, values, and freedoms," said Pai.
"We should use this momentum to finally pass the law, adapt rights for same-sex couples as is normal in democratic and Western societies, without much ado," said Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets.
If the bill is passed, Estonia, with a population of around 1.3 million, will become the first of the states formerly ruled by Moscow to legalize same-sex marriages.
This would also put an end to the current state of legal uncertainty faced by some same-sex couples, whose status is questioned in hospitals, embassies, government institutions, and other entities.
It should be noted that same-sex relationships between men were criminalized in the Soviet Union.
Most former communist countries in Europe and Central Asia lag behind Western countries in terms of LGBT+ rights, whether it be Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova.
Slovenia, which was once part of Yugoslavia, became the first post-communist country to legalize same-sex marriages last year.
US President Joe Biden issued a proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month and emphasized the need to fight for LGBT+ rights.