In 2014 the Estonian parliament passed a gender-neutral Civil Partnership Act on a close vote of 40 to 38. It was a major achievement that resulted from much lobbying and persuasion of the congress. It was a gain for LGBT citizens and for the country itself as it continued its growth away from half a century of brutish control by the Soviet bear next door. The Civil Partnership Act came into effect on January 1, 2016. This was a milestone event also as Estonia became the first ex-Soviet country to legalize same-sex partnerships. The new law acknowledges civil unions for all couples, regardless of the gender of the partners, and grants same-sex couples rights and responsibilities similar to marriage between heterosexuals.
Homosexual sex was legalized in Estonia in 1992. The age of consent is 14 years and was equalized for both homosexual and heterosexual sex in 2001. Homosexuals are not banned from military service. There is no law against homosexuals. As an obligation for acceptance into the European Union, Estonia transposed an EU directive into its own laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment from May 1, 2004. The Equal Treatment Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in areas other than employment, such as health care, social security, education and the provision of goods and services. Same-sex partnerships were legalized in 2016. Pride parades have been organized since 2004 and have occasionally met with homophobic opposition although much less in recent years. The 2017 Baltic Pride encountered no serious opposition.
Introduction Establishing a “Gay Life in Estonia” is becoming an achievable reality through education, tolerance and government support. Estonia is a small country with hope in the air and in the streets that reaching a level of gay tolerance and presence will not take a decade more and not through bloodshed and social upheaval. First, both
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