Marriage became legally available for same-sex couples in Finland today, the last Scandinavian country to do so. The law also allows same-sex couples to adopt children.
Finland has had civil unions for same-sex couples since 2002. The law to legalize same-sex marriage was passed by parliament in 2014 and signed by the president in 2015, but marriages couldn’t happen until now because of a transition period built into the law.
The status of the law remained uncertain until last week, when a citizen petition to repeal the same-sex marriage law was rejected by parliament in a 120-48 vote.
Same-sex marriage in Finland is limited to civil marriage. The Lutheran Church will still not allow same-sex marriage.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is one of Finland’s two national churches, along with the Finnish Orthodox Church. The Lutheran Church is funded with tax money, citizens can opt out of the church tax if they want to. Currently over 70% of Finland’s population are members of the Lutheran Church and pay church tax. Other European countries have similar systems with national churches funded by taxes, even though they are more secular than the US.
Defections have increased since 2010 partly as a result of the church’s stance on LGBTQ people. While the Lutheran Church has taken some more moderate stances on social issues like sanctioning abortion in certain cases, it remains opposed to same-sex marriage and considers homosexuality a sin.
Some priests have been willing to defy the church’s stance, according to Business Insider. A website was set up to help same-sex couples find those priests.