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In a groundbreaking move, Estonia’s parliament has voted to legalize same-sex marriage, marking a significant milestone for both the Baltic and Central European region.

The bill, which was approved by a majority of 55 votes to 34 in the 101-seat parliament on Tuesday, is set to take effect next year.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, speaking to Reuters after the vote, conveyed a powerful message to central Europe, emphasizing the importance of promoting love and marriage despite the challenges faced. While many countries in Western Europe have already embraced same-sex marriage as the norm, a significant portion of Eastern and Central Europe, particularly nations like Poland and Hungary, still harbour hostilities towards LGBTQ+ rights.

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Prime Minister Kallas also highlighted Estonia’s progress since gaining independence from the Soviet Union three decades ago, stating, “We have developed a lot in those 30 years and are now equals among same-value countries.” This legislative milestone represents a significant step forward in building a society where everyone’s rights are respected and individuals can love freely.

Recent polls conducted by the Centre for Human Rights indicate growing support for same-sex marriage within Estonia. The survey reveals that 53% of the population now backs marriage equality, a significant increase from just 34% a decade ago. These shifting attitudes reflect the evolving social landscape and a greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights.

The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, took to social media to commend Estonia on this historic achievement. He expressed his congratulations to the people and government of Estonia for the passage of marriage equality legislation and the recognition of same-sex families. Blinken affirmed that the United States proudly stands with Estonia in support of LGBTQI+ communities worldwide.

In an earlier interview with Lithuanian National Radio and Television, the chairman of Estonia’s parliament, Lauri Hussar, hinted at the impending introduction of same-sex marriage legislation. Hussar acknowledged the progress made in other countries where such laws exist, noting that these societies have moved forward. However, he admitted that there will still be pockets of opposition from conservative factions, including religious institutions.

Lithuania and Latvia, Estonia’s Baltic neighbours, also have same-sex partnership bills currently under consideration in their respective parliaments. The outcome of Estonia’s successful legalization of same-sex marriage could potentially inspire and encourage their neighbouring nations to take similar steps towards achieving marriage equality.

As Estonia paves the way for marriage equality in the Baltic and central European region, it serves as a beacon of progress and inclusivity. This legislative victory not only brings joy and affirmation to the LGBTQ+ community within Estonia but also sends a powerful message of hope to individuals advocating for equal rights across the globe.

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