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Finnish Parliament approves same-sex marriage

The Finnish Parliament has approved a bill allowing same-sex marriage. The vote was 105 to 92, with one MP absent.

Mielenosoittajat ovat täyttäneet Kansalaistorin äärimmilleen.
Thousands of people - pro and con - demonstrated on Citizens' Square across from Parliament House. Image: Yle

The Finnish Parliament voted on Friday afternoon to allow gender-neutral marriage, 105-92. The vote had been expected to be closer.

The gender-neutral marriage bill was seventh on the list of 15 votes. Four MPs out of the 200 MPs were absent on the first vote, concerning a reform of language laws, and two on the second vote, on car taxation. The third vote, on child subsidies, was also a vote of confidence in the government - which survived by a margin of 100-97. Only two MPs out of the 200 MPs were absent.

The unprecedented outcome marks the first time that a citizens' initiative has received lawmakers' blessing to be written into the law books. It also allows Finland to finally catch up with its Nordic peers, all of which have already legalised gay marriage.

Sweet triumph for supporters

The result was a sweet triumph for the thousands of supporters of marriage equality who gathered around the Parliament this afternoon. Many of them waved rainbow-coloured flags and banners. Shouts of "I do!" - the battle cry of the movement - echoed through the streets. Opponents of the measure also turned out for the session, but found themselves vastly outnumbered.

Parliamentary Speaker Eero Heinäluoma tightened security ahead of the vote, calling for calm on what has been a polarising subject both inside and outside the chamber. However there were no reports of disruptive behaviour - with one Yle correspondent describing the scene as having a Carnival-like atmosphere.

The reform will force wide-ranging changes in other legislation, which will take well over a year to finalise. The law will therefore not take effect until 2016 at the earliest. Finland has allowed registered partnerships since 2002.

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