Same-sex marriage is now legal in Finland, the 12th European state to do so, according to Pink News.
Finland has allowed same sex-unions, or partnerships, with restricted rights since 2002; however, the new legislation, which went into effect Wednesday, allows same-sex couples the right to take each other’s surname and adopt children, according to The Huffington Post.
Finnish lawmakers rejected a petition Feb.17 from more than 100,000 people demanding the repeal of the same-sex legislation, according to The New York Times. Petitioners, who claimed registered partnerships were sufficient enough, included members of the far-right populist Finns Party and the Christian Democrats. Despite opposition, the Finnish Parliament voted 120-48 in order to uphold the law.
Some opponents within parliament also argued all children should have the right to a father and mother, a declaration posed by Mika Niikko of the nationalist Finns party during the legislation’s initial approval in 2014, Reuters reported.
“This is a question of the future of our children and the whole society, and such changes should not be made without thorough evaluation of their impact,” Niikko said before the 2014 vote narrowly passed.
The Finnish Parliament originally passed a citizens’ initiative relating to same-sex marriage in 2014, voting 105-92 in favor of the law. At least three bills failed prior to the successful passing of the bill in 2014.
Alexander Stubb, a former member of the European Parliament, said in an open letter before the 2014 vote:
“Finland should strive to become a society where discrimination does not exist, human rights are respected and two adults can marry regardless of their sexual orientation.”
But although the legislation serves as a triumph for marriage equality advocates, there’s a caveat. The Finnish Lutheran church is still divided on the issue, and some old rules concerning marriage between men and women still apply, meaning same-sex couples who wish to be married in a church are left waiting in the wings, according to Business Insider Nordic: News. However, some priests defy the clergy’s opposition, and websites, such as Sateenkaaripapit, or “The Rainbow Priests,” offer a rolodex of priests willing to officiate same-sex weddings.
Other Nordic countries have already passed same-sex marriage laws, such as Sweden and Norway in 2009. And in European nations, same-sex marriage legislation continues to circulate. In 2015, Ireland voted in favor of same-sex marriage, BBC reported. Slovenia also legalized same-sex marriage Feb. 25, but still bars couples from adopting children, according to Attitude, a UK-based magazine focused on the LGBTQ community.
According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, same-sex marriage is legal in the following nations: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland (a Danish dependent territory), Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay and United States.
According to a local register’s office, some 41 couples across the country are scheduled to marry this week, as was reported by Finland’s local news outlet, YLE News.