Same-sex weddings have finally begun in Finland – the last Nordic country to approve equal marriage.
Finns have had a long wait for marriage equality, with weddings coming several years after the Finnish Parliament first passed a citizens’ initiative on same-sex marriage way back in 2014.
The two-and-a-half year delay was down to complexities in the process required for the legislation to become law, while opponents of equality also staged a plot to derail the plans at the eleventh hour last month.
After the country’s parliament voted rejected the putsch by 120-48, the law comes into effect today.
The change means that all Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden – now allow same-sex couples to marry.
Finland’s new law permits same-sex couples to enter marriages in civil ceremonies for the first time, replacing the previous system of ‘registered partnerships’. Couples already in registered partnerships are able to convert to a marriage.
Among the first to marry is Kuopio MP Markku Rossi, who Ilta-Sanomat reports is set to convert his partnership with Matti Kaarlejärvi into a marriage.
The couple, who have waited more than ten years for the chance to be married, said: “As society has now finally made the decision, we want to be an example to other.”
More couples are set to marry in a group same-sex wedding ceremony in Helsinki.
Gay Finns hoping for a church wedding may be waiting a while though, as Finland’s dominant religious institution, the Lutheran Evangelical Church, has reaffirmed its opposition to equal marriage.
Archbishop Kari Mäkinen has threatened to punish priests who take part in same-sex weddings, while some dioceses have even banned prayers for married same-sex couples.