Finland Votes to Allow Gay Marriage

File:Flag of Finland.svgOn Friday November 28th, Finland became the last Nordic country to legalise gay marriage.

It means that Finland is now the twelfth European country to accept that marriage should not be gender specific.

Considering how progressive the rest of Scandinavia has been on the issue it's come as a surprise to some that Finland has taken this long. Sweden, Norway and Denmark are years ahead (legal since 2009 and 2012 respectively), and campaigners are eager to bring Finland into line with their neighbours.

However, you may want to hold off buying a hat just yet; it's unlikely that we'll see any same-sex weddings in Finland until at least 2016.  What will be worth waiting for however, is the law change for adoption as gay married couples will be allowed to adopt children.

When the result was announced there were jubilant scenes outside the Parliament, but there's still much work for campaigners to do. Victory was slim: 105 members voted in favour, but 92 voted against.

Opposition to the bill has largely squared around the proposed changes to the adoption law. The country's nationalist Finns Party have been very vocal in maintaining that the protection of family values is the right of every child and that means having access to a mother and father. Opposition has also, unsurprisingly, come from members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. An estimated 8,000 people have left the religion because of the vote. Rather surprisingly, however, is that Kari Maekinen, the Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutherans was overjoyed at the news:

“I know how much this day means for rainbow people, their loved ones and many others. I rejoice with my whole heart for them and with them. We are in the same situation as our neighbouring Nordic Churches: our concept of marriage needs a fundamental examination. Speaking for myself, I think it is time for reconsideration. It will take place from the standpoint of the church’s own principles. I would like to warmly thank the proponents of the law, and all those who have taken part in the debates, regardless of position.”

What's interesting is that the issue ended up in the Parliament thanks to a petition signed by 160,000 citizens. So, there certainly seems to b a considerable movement for legal change in Finland. We think it's fantastic news sullied only by the length of time it'll take to become official.

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