LGBT rights in Finland

LGBT rights in Finland
Location of  Finland  (dark green)

 in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
 in the European Union  (light green)   [Legend]

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
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage since 2017
Adoption Yes

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.[1] Previously, Finland had allowed registered partnerships since 2002,[2] 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.

In December 2013, the Finnish Medicines Agency changed its rules on blood donations, repealing a permanent ban for men who have had sex with men (MSM) and setting a one-year deferral period.[3]

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 9984.[4] In May 2009, the Parliament revised the law allowing couples to adopt the biological children of their partner.[5] 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.[6] However, four of the eight parties in the Parliament — the Social Democrats,[7] the Greens,[8] the Left Alliance[9] and the Swedish People's Party[10] — 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,[11] 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.[12] The Centre Party had no general position on same-sex marriage,[10] though it opposed adoption rights for same-sex couples.[13] The Christian Democrats[14] and the True Finns[15] 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,[11][7][8][9][10] 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,[10] however, in an August 2010 survey by Yle, only 20% of the respondents said the issue should be a major theme.[16] 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.[17] As a result of the Christian Democratic inclusion in the new Government the Christian Democrats' chairperson Päivi Räsänen became the Minister of the Interior,[18] a bill legalizing same-sex marriage was not included in the government platform.[19] 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).[20]

A work group for the bill, headed by National Coalition MP Lasse Männistö, was soon launched and began operating in September 2011.[21] 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.[22] 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 (3012) and the Swedish People's Party (73). Meanwhile, the marriage bill enjoyed minority support within the National Coalition (1430) and very little support from the Centre (134), while no MPs from either the True Finns party nor the Christian Democrats voiced support.[23] 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.[24][25]

On 27 February 2013, the bill was voted down by the Legal Affairs Committee in a 98 vote.[26] 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.[27] 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.[25] A civil campaign called "Tahdon2013" ("I do 2013")[28] quickly gathered pace and collected the necessary signatures for the bill by 19 March 2013,[26][29] gathering over 100,000 online signatures on the first day alone.[30] In total, the initiative was backed by over 166,000 by its deadline, September 19, was submitted to the Parliament in December 2013.[31][32] 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.[33][34] 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.[35]

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."[36] 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.[1]

Public opinion on same-sex marriage

The 2015 Eurobarometer found that 66% of Finns thought that same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe, 28% were against.[37]

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%,[38] while an August 2010 survey conducted by Yle, put the support at 54%, with 35% opposing it.[16] 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.[39] A March 2013 survey by Taloustutkimus found that 58% of Finns supported same-sex marriage.[40] 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.[41][42]

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.[43][44] In 2014, thousands of Finns resigned from the Church, following comments made by church officials supporting the same-sex marriage legislation.[45]

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.[1] 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.[46] 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.[47] It was signed by the President on 20 April 2018 and will go into effect on 1 April 2019.[48]

28 February 2018 vote in the Parliament of Finland[49]
PartyVoted forVoted againstAbstainedAbsent (Did Not Vote)
     Centre Party
     National Coalition Party
     Social Democratic Party
     Blue Reform
     Finns Party
     Green League
     Left Alliance
     Swedish People's Partya
     Christian Democrats
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 protections

Discrimination based on sexual orientation has been criminalized since 1995 and on gender identity or expression since 2005.

In 2014, the Finnish Parliament approved an anti-discrimination law, establishing further protections in employment, the provision of goods and services, education and health services.[50]

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.[51] A recommendation from the UN Human Rights Council to eliminate the sterilization requirement was rejected by the Finnish Government in 2017.[52] 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.[53] Transgender people must also receive a mental disorder diagnosis in order to change legal gender.

Living conditions

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.[55]

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.[56][57]

An estimated 100,000 people attended the 2018 Helsinki Pride parade.[54]


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.[58]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal (Since 1971)
Equal age of consent (Since 1999)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only (Since 1995)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services (Since 1995)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) (Since 1995)
Recognition of same-sex couples (Since 2002)
Same-sex marriages (Since 2017)
Recognition of adoption for single people regardless of sexual orientation
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples (Since 2009)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples (Since 2017)
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military
Right to change legal gender (Since 2002; but requires sterilisation)
Access to IVF for lesbians (Since 2006)
Automatic parenthood for both spouses after birth (From 2019)
Conversion therapy banned on minors
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples (Illegal for heterosexual couples also)
MSMs allowed to donate blood / (Since 2013, one year deferral required)

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "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.
  2. "Milestones – Finnish LGBT History in a Nutshell" (in Finnish). Seksuaalinen tasavertaisuus ry. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  3. "Homot pääsevät luovuttamaan verta" [Gays allowed to donate blood]. Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2014-02-13.
  4. "Parliament narrowly passes law allowing same-sex registration". Helsingin Sanomat. Sanoma News. September 28, 2001. Archived from the original on January 12, 2016. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  5. "Homopareille perheen sisäinen adoptio-oikeus". MTV3. May 15, 2009. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  6. "MP – Yes or No?". Kotimaa (in Finnish). March 11, 2010. Archived from the original on March 15, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  7. 1 2 "Politics from A to Z" (in Finnish). Social Democratic Party of Finland. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  8. 1 2 "Green Mission 2010—2014 – Political Platform" (in Finnish). Green League. May 23, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  9. 1 2 Left Alliance (June 20, 2010). "Riches Grows by Sharing – Goals of Left Alliance for 2010—2015 – adopted at the 6th Left Alliance Assembly on June 20, 2010, in Jyväskylä" (in Finnish). Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  10. 1 2 3 4 "Marriage Act and Religion Heat up Rising Election Debate". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. July 17, 2010. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  11. 1 2 "Kokoomus: Avioliitosta sukupuolineutraali" (in Finnish). MTV3. July 30, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  12. "Lehdet: Zyskowicz toppuuttelee sukupuolineutraalia avioliittolakia". Helsingin Sanomat. Sanoma News. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  13. "Centrist Politics from A to Z" (in Finnish). Centre Party of Finland. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  14. "Päivi Räsänen: Avioliitto säilytettävä naisen ja miehen välisenä". Helsingin Sanomat. STT. July 3, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  15. "Homoliitot jakavat eduskunnan". Iltalehti (in Finnish). March 11, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  16. 1 2 "Survey: Majority Favour Gender Neutral Marriage Law". Yle. August 21, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  17. Hämäläinen, Marko; Rokka, Jussi (April 25, 2011). "Homoparien ulkopuolinen adoptio jakaa uuden eduskunnan". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  18. "Ms Päivi Räsänen is the New Minister of the Interior". Ministry of the Interior. June 22, 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  19. "Neuvottelutulos hallitusohjelmasta" (PDF) (in Finnish). Cabinet of Finland. June 17, 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 30, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  20. "Sukupuolineutraalia avioliittolakia ei hallitusohjelmaan" (in Finnish). Yleisradio. June 17, 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  21. "Sukupuolineutraalia avioliittolakia ajetaan sisään sivuovesta" (in Finnish). Yle. September 28, 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  22. "Avioliiton mies- ja naispareille sallisi 76 kansanedustajaa". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. Suomen Tietotoimisto. February 8, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  23. "Lakialoite 2/2012 vp" (in Finnish). Parliament of Finland. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  24. "Homojen avioliitosta nousee jälleen poliittinen vääntö" (in Finnish). Finnish Broadcasting Company. June 27, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  25. 1 2 Note: the text is an unofficial translation used by the Ministry of Justice of Finland.
  26. 1 2 "Parliamentary committee narrowly blocks same-sex marriage". Yle. February 27, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  27. Pohjanpalo, Olli (March 5, 2013). "Kansanedustaja syyttää homoliittoaloitteen ajajia painostuksesta". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  28. "Briefly". Tasa-arvoinen Suomi ry. Archived from the original on 2013-03-23. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  29. "Kansalaisaloite tasa-arvoisesta avioliittolaista Suomen nykyinen lainsäädäntö asettaa ihmiset eriarvoiseen asemaan. Vain nainen ja mies voivat avioitua keskenään. Rekisteröidyssä parisuhteessa olevilla pareilla on samat velvollisuudet muttei samoja oikeuksia. Tasa-arvoinen avioliittolaki takaisi jokaiselle oikeuden mennä avioliittoon riippumatta puolison sukupuolesta. Näin kaikki parit olisivat lain edessä yhdenvertaisia" (in Finnish). Ministry of Justice of Finland. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  30. "Aloite tasa-arvoisesta avioliittolaista keräsi jo yli satatuhatta nimeä". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Sanoma News. March 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  31. "Kansalaisaloite eduskunnalle avioliittolain, rekisteröidystä parisuhteesta annetun lain ja transseksuaalin sukupuolen vahvistamisesta annetun lain muuttamisesta (KAA 3/2013 vp)" [Citizens' initiative to the Parliament of Finland on revising the Marriage Act, the Act on Registered Partnerships and the Act on legal recognition of the gender of transsexuals] (in Finnish). Parliament of Finland. Retrieved 2014-02-15.
  32. "Eduskunnan työjärjestys" [Parliament´s Rules of Procedure] (in Finnish). Parliament of Finland. Retrieved 2014-02-15.
  33. "Torstain täysitunnossa kansalaisaloite tasa-arvoisesta avioliittolaista" [Thursday's plenary session debates initiative on marriage equality] (in Finnish). Parliament of Finland. 2014-02-20. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  34. "Legal committee votes against gay marriage". Yle. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  35. Finnish decision to allow same-sex marriage “shows the power of citizen initiatives”
  36. "Special Eurobarometer 437" (PDF). Eurobarometer. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 January 2016.
  37. "Eight EU Countries Back Same-Sex Marriage". Angus Reid Global Monitor. December 24, 2006. Archived from the original on February 27, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  38. "Same-Sex Marriage in Europe Poll 2013". Retrieved 2013-01-11.
  39. "Poll: Over half of Finns favour same-sex marriage law". Yle. March 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  40. Telebus Tahdon 2014
  41. "Survey finds rising support for gay marriage". Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  42. "Statistical Data" (in Finnish). Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  43. "Resignations from Church Today" (in Finnish). Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  44. - Tänään eronnut 1052 ihmistä klo 11:n mennessä - 2600 jätti kirkon eilen.
  45. "Citizens' initiative for two-mom couples gathers 50,000 signatures". YLE. 13 May 2016.
  46. Parliament approves law to allow children of same-sex couples to have two mothers from birth
  47. (in Finnish) Tasavallan presidentin esittely 20.4.2018
  48. "Eduskunta hyväksyi äitiyslain äänin 122-42" (in Finnish). 28 February 2018. Archived from the original on 4 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  49. Laki naisten ja miesten välisestä tasa-arvosta annetun lain muuttamisesta
  50. "Resignations from Church Today" (in Finnish). SETA. January 30, 2012. Archived from the original on June 8, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  51. Wareham, Jamie (August 29, 2017). "Finland will keep sterilizing trans people after it rejects law reform". Gay Star News. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  52. Amnesty International. "SAKRIS KUPILA, Denied legal gender recognition" (PDF).
  53. 1 2 Helsinki Pride attracts ‘record-breaking’ 100,000 marchers, PinkNews, 2 July 2018
  54. The Gay Happiness Index. The very first worldwide country ranking, based on the input of 115,000 gay men Planet Romeo
  55. Gay Rights in Finland
  56. Pride Event Calendar
  57. "Presidential elections: Niinistö, Haavisto headed for second round". Yle. January 22, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-20.

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