Finland: Parliamentary committee narrowly rejects equal marriage bill

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The Finnish parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee on Wednesday voted narrowly to reject a bill to legalise equal marriage.

The bill, proposed by the National Coalition Party (NCP) minister Alexander Stubb proposed the bill, which would have made marriage gender-neutral, therefore allowing same-sex couples to marry.

It was rejected 9 votes to 8, and so it will not go before the full legislature for consideration.

The bill would have made regulations relating to marriage equal for all, irrespective of the gender of the partners. In Finland, gay and lesbian couples can currently register their partnerships, but do not automatically take each others’ surnames, or adopt children, reports YLE.

The bill had proven contentious between different Finnish political parties, as Greens Minister, Ville Niinistö, and Social Democratic MP Mikael Jungner, accused the Legal Affairs Committee chair, Anne Holmlund of delaying considering it.

The Parliamentary speakers, however, said that Holmlund was not at fault, and had not acted improperly.

Holmlund was also a former Interior Minister, and an NCP colleague of Stubb, who proposed the bill.

Two members of Stubb’s own party, the NCP, voted against the bill, as well as MPs from the opposition Finns and Centre parties.

Committee members from the Left Alliance, Swedish People’s Party and Greens parties, as well as an SDP member voted in favour of it. Former TV presenter, Jaana Pelkonen, was the only NCP legislator on the committee to vote for the bill.

Both Norway and Sweden approved gender- neutral marriage in 2009. Iceland followed in 2010, and in 2012, Denmark also joined them in legalising equal marriage.

Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain are the four other EU states which allow it.

Advocates of equal marriage will now turn to gathering signatures from Finnish citizens, in order to for Parliament to consider equal marriage laws.

The initiative, organised by the Tahdon 2013 group, will begin gathering signatures on 19 March, and will need to gather 50,000 in order to force Parliament to consider equal marriage.

Registered partnerships were created for gay couples in 2002. In 2009, the Finnish parliament voted to allow gay couples in registered partnerships to adopt the biological children of their partners.