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Finland’s parliament supports measure aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage

Finland’s parliament supports measure aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage

HELSINKI — Finland’s parliament on Friday voted to consider a new law that would grant marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.

FinlandAFP reports that 105 members of parliament supported the “citizens’ initiative” proposal to legalize same-sex marriage, while 92 opposed it.

The citizens initiative campaign began in 2013, and marriage equality supporters collected 166,851 signatures, more than three times the 50,000 required by Finnish law to force the parliament to consider the proposal.

Friday’s vote does not automatically result in a change of law, but launches the process for parliament to examine the issue.

 The next step would involve a parliamentary committee, which would have to approve the proposed change before it goes to parliament for a final vote. The process is expected to take more than a year to finalize.

Anna Saarela, who led the citizens’ campaign, said however she had “no doubt” that it would go through.

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Finland’s Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, who supported the initiative, described it as an example of people power.

“It’s a sign of civic activism and indicates that Finnish law is heading in the same direction as the rest of the Nordics and the Western world on this sensitive and difficult question,” he told YLE News.

Same-sex couples in Finland have been able to enter into registered partnerships since 2002, but is the only country in the Nordic region to not allow same-sex marriage.

The new marriage law, if approved, is not expected to come into effect before 2016.

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