The Draft Bill for reformed marriage legislation may not get enough support

  • Teema
  • In English
  • jnsto

The initiative to enact equality based marriage legislation in Finland appears to be an uphill struggle. Since the publication of the Draft Bill only some seventy Members of Parliament have signed the initiative. They are all from the parties included in the current coalition government and one from the opposition Centre Party. No MPs from the largest opposition party the True Finns have signed, and of course no one from the small Christian Democratic group.

The support given to the Draft Bill does not reflect the parliamentary majority of the parties involved as the issue is divisive and has been labeled as “matter of conscience”. The two leading parties in the current government, the Social Democrats and the Conservatives (National Coalition) both had passed Party Convention resolutions in support of the principle, but in the talks about the formation of the coalition Prime Minister designate Jyrki Katainen promised to the small Christian Democratic party that the government would not give such a Bill to the government. The Christian Democrats had set that as a condition of joining the government.

The Draft Bill was signed in September by the chairpersons of four government parties (the Social Democrats, the Green Party, the Swedish Party and the Left League). The Prime Minister (conservative) did not sign and the Chairman of the Christian Democrats neither, of course.

If the Bill does not obtain at least one hundred signatures, it could be blocked in the committee level. Theoretically, the Bill could still be approved though as many MPs have said that even though they have not signed, they could vote in favor, if the Bill makes it to a parliamentary vote.

The so far low support to the Bill was a surprise against the backdrop of the various opinion surveys covering the candidates for the spring 2011 parliamentary elections.. Based on those advance opinions the Bill was viewed to have at least a slim chance of approval.

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New legislation makes a civic initiative possible as well. With 50 000 signatures a Citizens´ Bill would have to be dealt with in Parliament. No actual initiatives have been reported about the organizing of such a collection of signatures.

In the wake of the major victory of the True Finns and the anti-equality and anti-GLBT views heard from the True Finns camp, many parties became cautious about their previous stands. The change was most conspicuous in the behavior of Prime Minister Katainen.

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