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On February 27 the Parliamentary Committee on Justice rejected the case for Same-Sex Marriage by the narrow margin of 9 votes to 8. This was made just a little more tense by the two Finns Party MP’s voting against the proposal, despite having suggested during their election campaigns that they would support it.

What interests me about this defeat is that Finland generally seems to be a fairly liberal country. Few eyebrows were raised when Finland came within a few thousand votes of electing the world’s first openly gay head of state last year. His boyfriend even went on to appear in Dancing With The Stars, something unlikely to happen in the near future in the US or UK.

David Brown is a language consultant and journalist, regularly covering stories in Africa, Asia & the Middle East. He has lived in Finland for 10 years.

On February 27 the Parliamentary Committee on Justice rejected the case for Same-Sex Marriage by the narrow margin of 9 votes to 8. This was made just a little more tense by the two Finns Party MP’s voting against the proposal, despite having suggested during their election campaigns that they would support it.

What interests me about this defeat is that Finland generally seems to be a fairly liberal country. Few eyebrows were raised when Finland came within a few thousand votes of electing the world’s first openly gay head of state last year. His boyfriend even went on to appear in Dancing With The Stars, something unlikely to happen in the near future in the US or UK.

But in this case, Finland ran back to conservatism as if afraid of making a mistake. Quite what the committee was concerned about is not clear. Same-sex marriage is legal in eleven countries, and in some cases has been for more than a decade. Another twenty countries are looking to change their legislation, and by the end of this year same-sex marriage will probably be legal in the UK, France and New Zealand.

Perhaps the worst aspect of the parliamentary committee’s decision is that public opinion appears to be against them. The Tahdon 13 (I do 2013) movement gathered the 50,000 votes required to force a referendum in less than two days, and now has close to three times that number. Polls show around 58 per cent of Finns support same-sex marriage, meaning that should a referendum take place, same-sex marriage would be endorsed with a healthy majority.

Surprisingly enough, the world has not come to an end in countries that have legalised same-sex marriage, such as Spain, Belgium and South Africa. There has been no sudden spike in the numbers of people describing themselves as gay, and people have not flooded in from all around the world to live lives of drugged excess and debauchery – as was widely predicted in New Zealand when homosexuality was first decriminalised.

Opposition to same-sex marriage here has come largely from the church, a position that I can both grudgingly accept, and hope will slowly change. The key point being that no one is forcing anyone into a gay marriage, and if Christians feel homosexuality is wrong, then they are probably best advised to remain straight themselves.

If the law recognises the right of hapless teenagers who have known each other six weeks to marry – on what basis does it not recognise the rights of two people who have lived together for a decade? Opponents frequently cite the current option of Registered Union, but there is something disturbing about placing any group of people in their own category. Ultimately, marriage must be available to all adults, and our choice of whom they marry simply does not enter the equation.

Same-sex marriage will inevitably become law in Finland. I hope politicians will take the easy way out, and although it is now too late for Finland to set an example for other countries, at least we can follow the example of others.

You can vote for the Tahdon 13 initiate here:

https://www.kansalaisaloite.fi/fi/aloite/192

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