LGBT rights in Finland
|LGBT rights in Finland |
|Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status||
Legal since 1971,|
age of consent equalized in 1999
|Gender identity/expression||Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, only after sterilization|
|Military service||LGBT people allowed to serve openly|
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation and gender identity protections|
|Same-sex marriage since 2017|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Finland are some of the most progressive in the world. According to an annual ILGA report, Finnish LGBT legislation is among the most extensive and developed legislations in Europe. Compared to fellow Nordic countries it ranks at the top, outranked only by neighbouring Norway. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity have been legal in Finland since 1971 with "promotion" thereof decriminalized in 1999 and homosexuality declassified as an illness in 1981. Discrimination based on sexual orientation except in the area of marriage was criminalized in 1995 and discrimination based on gender identity in 2005.
Same-sex marriage and joint adoption by same-sex couples were approved by the Finnish Parliament in 2014, and the law took effect on 1 March 2017. Previously, Finland had allowed registered partnerships since 2002, which gave same-sex couples the same rights as married couples except for adoption and a joint surname. In vitro fertilization (IVF) was legalized for lesbian couples in 2007 and stepchild adoption became possible for all same-sex couples in 2009.
Finland is often referred to as one of the world's most LGBT-friendly countries and public acceptance of LGBT people and same-sex relationships is high.
Legality of same-sex sexual activity
Homosexuality has been decriminalized since 1971, and was declassified as an illness in 1981, around the same time as in other European countries. The age of consent was equalized to 16 in 1999. Transvestism was declassified as an illness in 2011.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Registered partnerships in Finland (Finnish: rekisteröity parisuhde; Swedish: registrerat partnerskap) were created for same-sex couples in 2002. The legislation granting similar rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples as to married opposite-sex couples was passed by the Parliament in September 2001 with votes 99–84. In May 2009, the Parliament revised the law allowing couples to adopt the biological children of their partner. Registered partnerships, which were available only to same-sex couples, were registered and dissolved using a procedure similar to that for civil marriages. The legislation also granted immigration rights to a foreign partner. The registered partnership law was repealed on 1 March 2017.
According to a survey conducted by the newspaper Kotimaa, on March 11, 2010, the parliament elected in Spring 2007 was split on the issue of same-sex marriage, with 54% opposing and 46% supporting a gender-neutral marriage law. However, four of the eight parties in the Parliament — the Social Democrats, the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People's Party — had declared their support for same-sex marriage in their general position papers. The National Coalition put same-sex marriage on its agenda in its party congress in June 2010, though the vice-chairman of its parliament group Ben Zyskowicz did not believe it would be approved at least by the NCP during the upcoming four years, basing his view on the fact that majority of the then NCP MPs were against it. The Centre Party had no general position on same-sex marriage, though it opposed adoption rights for same-sex couples. The Christian Democrats and the True Finns took a negative stance on same-sex marriage in their electoral platforms.
Based on support by five of the eight parties in the Parliament elected in 2007, it was considered possible that same-sex marriage would be legalized after the 2011 parliamentary elections. It was speculated that the same-sex marriage issue would be a major theme, however, in an August 2010 survey by Yle, only 20% of the respondents said the issue should be a major theme. According to the voting advice application of Helsingin Sanomat, 90 MPs of the current 200-seat Parliament elected in 2011 supported same-sex couples' eligibility for external adoptions, while 93 MPs opposed it. As a result of the Christian Democratic inclusion in the new Government – the Christian Democrats' chairperson Päivi Räsänen became the Minister of the Interior, – a bill legalizing same-sex marriage was not included in the government platform. However, according to the Left Alliance, it was agreed upon during the negotiations on government formation that, if proposed by an individual MP, such bill would be endorsed by all the other parties in the Government Coalition (the National Coalition, Social Democrats, Left Alliance, Green League and Swedish People's Party).
A work group for the bill, headed by National Coalition MP Lasse Männistö, was soon launched and began operating in September 2011. A bill was subsequently presented to the Finnish Parliament on 8 February 2012, with the collection of endorsement signatures - 76 of the 199 voting MPs indicated that they supported the bill. The bill received full supported from the Left Alliance and ex-Left Alliance MPs (12 and 2, respectively) and the Greens (10), while it enjoyed majority support within the Social Democrats (30–12) and the Swedish People's Party (7–3). Meanwhile, the marriage bill enjoyed minority support within the National Coalition (14–30) and very little support from the Centre (1–34), while no MPs from either the True Finns party nor the Christian Democrats voiced support. According to state broadcaster Yle, the bill had a reduced chance of passing because it was submitted as a private member's bill and, therefore, had to have at least 100 signatories in order to qualify for the preparation process in a Parliamentary committee – as opposed to a government proposal which goes directly to a committee and to a vote in a parliamentary plenary session.
On 27 February 2013, the bill was voted down by the Legal Affairs Committee in a 9–8 vote. Prior to the rejection, proponents of the bill accused the committee chair Anne Holmlund (who personally opposed the bill), of delaying the process. Holmlund denied this, pointing to a number of government proposals and bills with over 100 signatory MPs, which have precedence under the procedural rules. The Finns Party MP Arja Juvonen, who had been expected to be more pro-gay than her predecessor on the committee (Johanna Jurva), also accused the Greens, Social Democrats and Left Alliance of pressuring her to endorse the bill against the Finns Party's group decision. However, an amendment to the Finnish Constitution of 1 March 2012 allows for citizens' initiatives with at least 50,000 signatories with suffrage to be considered by the Parliament. A civil campaign called "Tahdon2013" ("I do 2013") quickly gathered pace and collected the necessary signatures for the bill by 19 March 2013, gathering over 100,000 online signatures on the first day alone. In total, the initiative was backed by over 166,000 by its deadline, September 19, was submitted to the Parliament in December 2013. The bill was put for introductory debate (lähetekeskustelu) in plenary session on 20 February 2014, after which the bill was referred to the Legal Affairs Committee. On 25 June, the bill was rejected by the Legal Affairs Committee by a vote of 10-6. The Committee recommended that Parliament reject the bill. Two members were not present, though both apologized for being absent and stated that it would have failed on a 9-8 count if everyone had attended.
On 28 November 2014, the Finnish Parliament voted 105-92 to reject the Legal Affairs Committee's recommendation. The legalisation was then approved 101–90 by the Parliament on 12 December. It was signed into law by the President on 20 February 2015. Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb showed support for the bill. The law came out of a citizen's initiative and the Prime Minister boosted this as "a prime example of citizen power." Following a number of legislative follow-ups, the law allowing same-sex marriage went into effect on 1 March 2017, making Finland the 12th European nation to legalise same-sex marriage.
Public opinion on same-sex marriage
The support for same-sex marriage in Finland has grown gradually since the 2000s. A December 2006 EU poll put Finnish support for same-sex marriage at 45%, while an August 2010 survey conducted by Yle, put the support at 54%, with 35% opposing it. In January 2013, a poll conducted by YouGov found that the support had climbed to 57%, with 32% opposed and 12% unsure. In the same survey, support for same-sex adoption was 51%, with 36% opposed and 13% unsure. A March 2013 survey by Taloustutkimus found that 58% of Finns supported same-sex marriage. A survey taken in March 2014 by Taloustutkimus found that 65% of Finns supported same-sex marriage, while 27% opposed. A different survey in March 2014 found that 57% supported same-sex adoption, while 36% opposed.
A gay rights panel discussion aired on YLE2 on October 12, 2010, was followed by an unprecedented high number of people leaving the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. In 2014, thousands of Finns resigned from the Church, following comments made by church officials supporting the same-sex marriage legislation.
Adoption and family planning
Joint adoption for same-sex couples is legal and a law allowing such adoptions went into effect on 1 March 2017. The Finnish Parliament's approval of a same-sex marriage law in late 2014 included provisions allowing same-sex couples to adopt. Stepchild adoption has been legal since 2009. Female couples have more parental rights than male couples, given that equal access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and artificial insemination was legalized in 2006. Surrogacy remains illegal for both opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples.
Parentage rights for lesbian couples are complex; in 2016 a citizen's initiative calling on Parliament to amend the law so as to allow female same-sex couples to have automatic parentage recognition in law was launched. Currently, such couples have to carry out an intra-family adoption to be recognised as the parents of children who are conceived via fertility treatment. In February 2018, the Parliament passed a law by a vote of 122-42 that includes same-sex female couples in all rights of maternity pay and full parentage rights. It was signed by the President on 20 April 2018 and will go into effect on 1 April 2019.
|Party||Voted for||Voted against||Abstained||Absent (Did Not Vote)|
|National Coalition Party||–|
|Social Democratic Party||–||–|
|Swedish People's Partya||–||–|
- a. The Swedish-speaking Finns' parliamentary group consists of nine Swedish People’s Party members and one Independent representing the Autonomous Region of Åland.
- b. The Speaker votes only in unusual circumstances, though he or she continues to serve as one of the 200 members of Parliament.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation has been criminalized since 1995 and on gender identity or expression since 2005.
Gender identity and expression
In Finland, people wishing to change their legal gender must be sterilized or "for some other reason infertile". In 2012, a possible change of the law was put under consideration by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. A recommendation from the UN Human Rights Council to eliminate the sterilization requirement was rejected by the Finnish Government in 2017. Sakris Kupila, a trans activist and medical student, was denied a legal gender change after refusing to undergo this process, campaigning along with Amnesty International to demand a change to the law. Transgender people must also receive a mental disorder diagnosis in order to change legal gender.
Finland is often referred to as one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in the world and public acceptance of LGBT people and same-sex relationships is high. The "Gay Happiness Index" (GHI), based on a poll by PlanetRomeo, lists Finland as the twelfth happiest country for LGBT people, on par with countries such as New Zealand and Spain.
Several Finnish cities have LGBT organisations, which offer help and guidance to LGBT people. Pride parades are held in various cities across Finland, notably in Helsinki, the capital, but also in smaller cities such as Rovaniemi and Kuusamo, in the north of the country.
In 2011, Pekka Haavisto, an openly gay member of the Finnish Parliament, was nominated as the Green League candidate for the Finnish presidential election of 2012. In the first round of the election on January 22, 2012, he finished second with 18.8 percent of the votes, but in the run-off on February 5, he lost to the National Coalition Party candidate, former Finance Minister Sauli Niinistö with 37.4 percent of the votes.
|Same-sex sexual activity legal|
|Equal age of consent|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment only|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples|
|Recognition of adoption for single people regardless of sexual orientation|
|Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples|
|LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Right to change legal gender|
|Access to IVF for lesbians|
|Automatic parenthood for both spouses after birth|
|Conversion therapy banned on minors|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
- Rainbow Europe, ILGA ranking: Finland
- Report of the European Fundamental Rights Agency on LGBT Rights in Finland, 2008
- "Same-sex marriage law goes into effect in Finland". Yle. 1 March 2017. Archived from the original on 2 March 2017.
Starting today, on March 1 (2017), same-sex marriage became legal in Finland. Same sex couples also gained the legal right to adopt children.
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- Note: the text is an unofficial translation used by the Ministry of Justice of Finland.
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