Estonia is first post-Soviet country to legalise same-sex marriage


In a historic move, Estonia has become the first Central European and first post-Soviet country to approve marriage equality for its citizens.

The bill amending the Family Act to allow same-sex couples to marry was passed on Tuesday with 55 out of 101 members of the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) voting in favour. Estonia now joins 18 other European countries in recognising same-sex marriages.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas expressed her joy on Twitter, saying, “It’s official: Estonia has legalised marriage equality. We join other Nordic nations with this historic decision.” She added, “I’m proud of my country. We’re building a society where everyone’s rights are respected and people can love freely.”

The Estonian LGBT Association also welcomed the decision, emphasising the positive impact it will have on the entire society.

“Recognition and protection by the state gives same-sex couples and the children growing up in their family’s security in solving practical issues of everyday life (e.g., parents’ obligations to children, property-related issues, etc.), and it also affects the well-being of LGBT+ people more broadly,” stated Aili Kala, a board member of the Estonian LGBT Association ahead of the vote.

ILGA-Europe, an international LGBTQ+ organisation, applauded the passage of the bill, calling it a historic achievement.

“We welcome today’s overwhelming vote from Estonia’s parliament to introduce same-sex marriage,” said the organisation in a statement on Twitter. It congratulated the efforts of LGBTI activists and others who worked tirelessly toward this milestone.

The newly passed bill allows same-sex couples to marry and jointly adopt children, and it will take effect on January 1, 2024. Estonia, known for its progressive stance, is considered one of the most liberal among the former Soviet Union countries.

A recent survey by Turu-uuringute AS in 2023 revealed that 53% of Estonians support same-sex marriage, while 75% support LGBT anti-discrimination laws.

In another positive development, the government of Estonia has also approved a draft bill aimed at banning hate speech based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which will be presented to the Riigikogu.

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