Pink News reports the good news that the Finnish Parliament has just voted in support of changing the country’s marriage laws to be more gender-neutral, to allow same-sex couples to marry.
MPs in Finland just voted 105-92 for gender neutral marriage.
Technically the majority voted against keep the law as it stands, which defines marriage as specifically between one man and one woman.
There will soon be committee meetings to start the process of introducing legislation to change the law.
In practice, it is expected that the first same-sex weddings will take place in March 2017.
This is all the more encouraging given Finland’s close proximity to Russia. Come on Putin, follow your neighbour’s lead!
In contrast with the Church of England’s response to same sex marriage in England and Wales, the leader of Finland’s state-supported Evangelical Lutheran church, Archbishop Kari Mäkinen, has hailed Friday’s vote allowing same-sex marriage. He is quoted as saying
“I know how much this day means to the rainbow community, their loved ones and many others. I rejoice with my whole heart for them and with them,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Friday afternoon.
Mäkinen also praised those behind the citizens’ initiative that brought the issue to a parliamentary vote, and those who took part in the debate in various ways.
“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,” he said.
Mäkinen said he also understands those for whom Friday’s decision was a disappointment.
In his view, the discussion has shaken the church – which includes more than three out of four Finns – in a positive way. Many Finns have left the church in recent years based on its perceived opposition to gay rights – represented in the minds of many by the Christian Democrats Party, which is not affiliated with the church. Its chair, Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, has been one of the most outspoken opponents of gender-neutral marriage.