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Finland: Gender Neutral Marriage Act Enters Into Force

(Mar. 2, 2017) On March 1, 2017, the Finnish Marriage Act became gender neutral as amendments to the Act entered into force.  (Äktenskapslag [Marriage Act] (Finsk författningssamling [FFS] 13.6.1929/234), FINLEX.)  The amending Act was adopted on February 20, 2015.  (Lag om ändring av äktenskapslagen [Act on Amendment of the Marriage Act] (FFS 20.2.2015/156249), FINLEX.)

Registered partnerships have been legal in Finland since 2001.  (Lag om registrerat partnerskap [Act on Registered Partnership] (FFS 9.11.2001/950) FINLEX.)  The Marriage Act as amended now treats heterosexual and homosexual marriages the same by providing in section 1 that:

Two persons who have agreed to enter into marriage with each other are engaged.

Marriage shall be entered into through a wedding.

Before the wedding [can take place], there must be a review of whether there are any legal obstacles to the marriage.

The Marriage Act, following the amendments, also provides for an opportunity for domestic partners to transform their domestic partnership into a marriage by submitting a joint application to the local magistrate.  (1a § Marriage Act; Lag om ändring av äktenskapslagen [Law on Amendment to the Marriage Act], FFS 8.4.2016/249, FINLEX.)

As a result of the amendment of the Marriage Act to make it gender neutral, several provisions of the Act on Registered  Partnership were repealed.  Whereas domestic partnerships will continue to be recognized, no new domestic partnerships can be legally registered;, unions between homosexual couples can thus only be made  through the act of marriage, as they are for heterosexual couples.  (Lag om ändring av lagen om registrerat partnerskap [Act on Amendment of the Act on Registered Partnership] (FFS 8.4.2016/250), FINLEX.)