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Estonia Becomes the First Central European Nation to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

2023

In a historic decision, Estonia has become the first central European nation, as well as the first ex-Soviet country, to legalize same-sex marriage. The Estonian parliament approved amendments to its Family Law Act on Tuesday, allowing marriages between any two individuals, regardless of their sex, effective from January 1, 2024.

The newly passed legislation not only legalizes same-sex marriages but also permits same-sex couples to adopt children. Prior to this amendment, unmarried couples in Estonia were not eligible for adoption.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas expressed her pride in the decision, stating that it does not take anything away from anyone but grants something important to many. She sees it as a testament to Estonian society's caring and respectful nature towards one another.

A recent survey by the Estonian Human Rights Centre showed that over half of Estonians, 53%, support marriage equality. This move places Estonia among 30 other countries that have legalized gay marriage, as reported by the Pew Research Center. Andorra, another European nation, had also legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year.

Previously, Estonia recognized same-sex relationships through the Registered Partnership Act, which provided certain rights related to health, assets, and decision-making for partners. With the new amendment, individuals in registered partnerships will have the option to convert their status to marriage easily.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined the worldwide celebrations, congratulating Estonia on its progressive legislation and expressing the United States' support for LGBTQI+ communities everywhere.

This landmark decision marks a significant step towards ensuring equal rights for all Estonians and reflects the country's commitment to fostering an inclusive and respectful society.

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