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Finns Party warns MPs over same-sex marriage support

The Finns Party has reprimanded three MPs for their support for same-sex marriage, which becomes law in Finland from 1 March. The party had instructed lawmakers to support a citizens' initiative to prevent gay marriage becoming law, but three legislators rebelled against the party line.

Finns Party MPs Ville Talvio, Tiina Elovaara and Arja Juvonen voted to support same-sex marriage against their party's line on Friday. Image: Yle

The Finns Party's parliamentary group has given official warnings to three MPs for breaking party discipline in a vote on same-sex marriage. A citizens' initiative opposing the imminent legalisation of same-sex marriage was voted on in parliament on Friday, and the Finns Party ordered MPs to support the initiative.

Tiina Elovaara, Ville Tavio and Arja Juvonen voted against the initiative, and on Thursday were punished for the breach of party discipline.

The initiative was rejected by 120 MPs, with 48 supporting it and 2 legislators abstaining. A further 29 MPs were absent.

Finns party leader Timo Soini, a populist social conservative, converted to Roman Catholicism in the 1980s after growing disillusioned with the liberal line taken by Finland's Lutheran church.

When question why the party had enforced party discipline on this issue while other parties had allowed a free vote, Soini said that his was 'a kind of different party'.

"When you're part of a party, you abide by the party's group decisions," said Soini. "If you don't then you're punished."

Even so, the group selected the most lenient form of punishment. An official warning is the next most serious consequence, followed by temporary and then permanent suspension from the group.