Marriage: Will Finland Flip-flop?

Two years ago Finland voted to legalise same-sex marriage – but the law has still not come into effect and now it seems they’re having doubts.

“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,” Finland’s then prime minister Alexander Stubb, said before the vote in 2014. It went on to pass in parliament by 105 to 92, yet would not come into effect until 2017.

But a ‘citizens initiative’ – similar to the UK’s government website petition system – has brought the subject back to parliament for reconsideration. 167,000 people added their names to the call for a review of the law.

The original 2014 vote went against the advice of the parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee which had divided narrowly against allowing same-sex marriage, 9 votes to 8.

An initial debate on the citizens initiative petition heard voices for and against same-sex marriage but did not go to a vote.

The Finnish general election in 2015 saw the balance of power shifted to the right, like the one in the UK. This might be enough to overturn the narrowness of that 2014 vote, if the petition is pressed to a vote.

In comparison, here in the UK the votes on same-sex marriage at Westminster all passed by huge margins of more than 2:1 and so a similar “think again” measure would be less likely to succeed.