Laws

FINLAND

ÅLAND ISLANDS
(self-governing part of Finland)
Limited information only available for these topics

Access to Children
Adoption of Children
Age of Consent
Anti-Vilification
Artifical Insemination
Assisted Reproduction
Asylum / Refugees
  Civil Unions
Custody of Children
Discrimination
Fostering Children
Gender Identity
Harassment
Health, Medical
  HIV/Aids
Homosexuality
Immigration
Inheritance
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Marriage
Military
  Parenting
Partners
Property
Sodomy
Transgender, Transsexual
Violence
Wrongful Death

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Age of Consent Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 15 June 1998, Finland's parliament lowered the age of consent for gay sex from 18 to 16, the legal age for straight sex, and repealed a law that prohibited promotion of homosexuality [R1.1].

R1.1 Capital Q: Finnish Equalise Age of Consent 26 JUN 98
Assisted Reproduction Technology
Artificial Insemination, In Vitro Fertilisation, Surrogacy
Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In 2003, the Legal Affairs Committee of the Finnish parliament approved a bill that would make it unlawful in Finland to provide fertility treatment to single women or lesbian couples [R1.1].

R1.1 Gay.com: Finland Moves to Ban Lesbian Fertility Treatment 05 FEB 03
Asylum, Immigration, Refugees Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Asylum

A relatively new addition to the list of provisions enshrined in the 1951 UN Convention that entitles a person to apply for refugee status, "sexual orientation" owes its inclusion to a growing understanding in a handful of countries that lesbians and gays constitute a distinct social group. This article has been invoked to grant asylum to lesbians and gay men in Finland [R1.2].

Finland is amongst several countries that have granted asylum to homosexuals who feared anti-gay persecution in their native lands [R1.1].

2.

Immigration

In June 2005, it was reported that Finland was amongst at least 16 countries that recognized same-sex couples for immigration purposes [R2.1].

R1.2 Beirut Daily Star: For Some Young Lebanese Staying Means 'Life Will be Over' 12 OCT 01
R1.1 Adelaide Gay Times: Sexual Orientation Asylum is now Common 22 NOV 96
R2.1 Immigration Equality: Uniting American Families Act Introduced into the U.S. Congress 22 JUN 05
Children: Access, Custody, Visitation Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Courts & Tribunals

In October 2001, Finland's Supreme Court made a landmark ruling to award custody of two children to their deceased mother's female partner instead of their natural father [R1.1].

R1.1 Reuters: Dead Mother's Woman Partner Wins Child Custody 19 OCT 01
Civil Unions, Partners: Domestic, Registered Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 17 February 2016, the Parliament approved 106-42 legislation that will allow same-sex couples in registered partnerships to convert their legal status to 'married' by notifying the authorities. Registered partnerships will be abolished on 01 March 2017, when the law to allow same-sex marriage enters into force [R1.9].

On 28 September 2001, the Finnish parliament approved a law allowing gay men and lesbians to officially register as couples and obtain some of the rights of married couples but at the time, not the right to adopt each other's children [R1.8].

See also: PARENTING: ADOPTION, FOSTERING below.

The law, came into effect 01 March 2002 [R1.7].

Section 1 of the Registered Partnerships Act (laki rekisteröidystä parisuhteesta, lagen om registrerat partnerskap; Act no. 950/2001), a partnership between two persons of the same sex and over 18 years of age may be registered as provided by the Act [L1.6].

Section 8, subsection 1, of the Act provides that

"the registration of the partnership shall have the same legal effects as the conclusion of marriage, unless otherwise provided" [L1.6].

Previously:

In December 2000, the Finnish government proposed legalizing gay partnerships but said same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt children or share a surname [R1.5].

In June 1999, Finnish Justice Minister Johannes Koskinen said he backed a proposal to allow homosexual couples to register their unions in the same way as married heterosexuals, paving the way for a change in the law [R1.4].

In March 1997, the Finnish Parliament's Law Committee began studying a registered-partnership measure [R1.3].

In May 1996, a bill to legalize gay registered partnerships (was introduced to) Parliament [R1.2].

In March 1996, four of the five parties in the Cabinet - the Social Democrats, Left Alliance, Greens and Swedish National Party - said they favour the passage of a Scandinavian-style registered partnership law that grants all the rights of marriage except access to church weddings, adoption, artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilisation [R1.1].

2.

Cities & Towns

In March 2002, the city of Helsinki denied gay city employees who are in registered partnerships paid leave from the city for events such as weddings and funerals [R2.1].

3.

Churches

On 12 November 2010, the General Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church's highest administrative body, issued a statement saying it would allow clergy to minister [allowing of a prayer] to LGBT church members [R3.3].

In October 2003, the Evangelical Lutheran Church rejected the possibility that it might bless or sanction homosexual relationships. However, the church will continue to allow those registered in homosexual relationships to perform official duties for the church [R3.2].

In February 2002, months after Finnish lawmakers legalized same-sex partnerships, bishops of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church decided not to bless gay unions in church [R3.1].

R1.9 YLE News: Parliament approves same-sex marriage legislation 17 FEB 16
R1.8 Reuters: Finland Approves Gay Couples Law 28 SEP 01
R1.7 Ananova (UK): Gay Partnerships Legalised in Finland 01 MAR 02
L1.6 Judgment: Case of Hämäläinen v. Finland No. 37359/09 (at para 26) PDF 402.08kb, 16 JUL 14
R1.5 The Advocate: Finland May OK Gay Partnership, But Not Adoption 16-18 DEC 00
The Advocate: Finland to Grant Gay Couples Legal Status 01 DEC 00
R1.4 Reuters: Finland to Allow Gays to Register Marriages 03 JUN 99
R1.3 Melbourne Star Observer: Finns Consider Partnership 21 MAR 97
R1.2 Adelaide Gay Times: Finland Partnership Bill Introduced 21 JUN 96
R1.1 Melbourne Star Observer: Finland Moves on Marriage 08 MAR 96
R2.1 Gay.com UK: Helsinki Denies Gay Employees Couple Rights 15 MAR 02
R3.3 The Advocate: Finnish Church OK's Prayers for Gay Couples 12 NOV 10
R3.2 YLE News: Lutheran Church To Allow Gay Workers 07 OCT 03
R3.1 The Advocate: Finnish Clergy Won't Bless Legal Unions 15 FEB 02

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Discrimination Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

Article 6 of the Constitution (Suomen perustuslaki, Finlands grundlag; Act no. 731/1999) provides:

"Everyone is equal before the law.

No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person. Children shall be treated equally and as individuals and they shall be allowed to influence matters pertaining to themselves to a degree corresponding to their level of development.

Equality of the sexes shall be promoted in society and working life, especially in the determination of pay and other terms of employment, as provided for in more detail by an [implementing] Act." [L1.3].


On 20 June 2008, the government announced that the Finnish Red Cross policy of barring men who have sex with men from donating blood was lawful [R1.2].

In 2005, discrimination on the basis of "gender identity" was made unlawful [R1.1].

In 1995, discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation was made unlawful [R1.1].

2.

Cities & Towns

In March 2002, the city of Helsinki reportedly denied gay city employees who are in registered partnerships paid leave from the city for events such as weddings and funerals [R2.1].

3.

Courts & Tribunals

On 01 February 2011, Alma Media issued a statement saying that the Supreme Court had refused Alma subsidiary Pohjois-Suomen Media leave to appeal in the Johanna Korhonen discrimination case [R3.3].

Previously:

In February 2009, the Labour Protection Office in Finland ruled that the country's second-largest media group was guilty of unjust discrimination in the case of Johanna Korhonen, a gay woman who was dismissed as editor of a regional newspaper [R3.2].


In July 1998, a British man living in Finland won the nation's first anti-gay discrimination case under a 1995 law that bans bias based on sexual orientation [R3.1].

4

Churches

In October 2003, the Evangelical Lutheran Church decided to allow gays and lesbians to work within the church [R4.1].

L1.3 Judgment: Case of Hämäläinen v. Finland No. 37359/09 (at para 23) PDF 402.08kb, 16 JUL 14
R1.2 The Advocate: Gay Blood Ban Retained in Finland 01 JUL 08
R1.1 ILGA: State-Sponsored Homophobia PDF 382.87kb, MAY 08
R2.1 Gay.com UK: Helsinki Denies Gay Employees Couple Rights 15 MAR 02
R3.3 Helsinki Times: Alma Media loses legal battle against Johanna Korhonen 01 FEB 11
R3.2 PinkNews.co.uk: Finnish Media Group Discriminated Against Lesbian Editor 03 FEB 09
R3.1 Capital Q: Finnish Discrimination Case Won 03 JUL 98
R4.1 YLE News: Lutheran Church To Allow Gay Workers 07 OOC 03
Gender Identity, Intersex,
Transgender, Transexual

[?]
Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [MARRIAGE]
1.

National

In 2005, discrimination on the basis of "gender identity" was made unlawful [R1.2].

The law also recognises the "new" gender after Gender Reassignment treatment [R1.2].

Section 1 of the Transsexuals (Confirmation of Gender) Act (laki transseksuaalin sukupuolen vahvistamisesta, lagen om fastställande av transsexuella personers könstillhörighet; Act no. 563/2002) provides that it shall be established that a person belongs to the opposite sex to the one noted in the population register if he or she [L1.1]

1) provides medical certification that he or she permanently feels that he or she belongs to the opposite gender and lives in the corresponding gender role and that he or she has been sterilised or is for some other reason incapable of reproducing;

2) is over 18 years of age;

3) is not married or in a registered partnership; and

4) is a Finnish citizen or is resident in Finland."

Section 2 of the Act provides for exceptions from the marital-status requirement. A marriage or registered partnership does not prevent the confirmation of gender if the spouse or the partner personally gives his or her consent to it before a local registry office. Where membership of the opposite sex is confirmed, a marriage is turned automatically, without further action, into a registered partnership and a registered partnership into a marriage. This change is noted in the population register [L1.1].

R1.2 ILGA: State-Sponsored Homophobia PDF 382.87kb, MAY 08
L1.1 Judgment: Case of Hämäläinen v. Finland No. 37359/09 (at para 29) PDF 402.08kb, 16 JUL 14
Health, Medical Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [HIV, AIDS]
1.

National

On 20 June 2008, the government announced that the Finnish Red Cross policy of barring men who have sex with men from donating blood was lawful [R1.1].

R1.1 The Advocate: Gay Blood Ban Retained in Finland 01 JUL 08
HIV, Aids Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 20 June 2008, the government announced that the Finnish Red Cross policy of barring men who have sex with men from donating blood was lawful [R1.1].

R1.1 The Advocate: Gay Blood Ban Retained in Finland 01 JUL 08
Homosexuality, Sodomy Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In 1971, consensual sex between same-sex couples was decriminalised [R1.1].

R1.1 ILGA: State-Sponsored Homophobia PDF 382.87kb, MAY 08
Marriage Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

On 17 February 2017, the legislature upheld the 2014 same-sex marriage law by 120 votes to 48, defeating the initiative of conservative opponents to the law who gathered more than the 50,000 signatures required for parliament to debate an issue. So, the law goes into effect 01 March 2017 as before [R1.18].

On 12 July 2016, it was reported that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which has around four million members, has issued guidelines to church leaders that says the new law permitting same-sex weddings that comes into force of 01 March 2017, will ''have no effect on the rights of pastors to officiate church weddings'' [R1.17].

On 17 February 2016, the Parliament approved 106-42 legislation that will allow same-sex couples in registered partnerships to convert their legal status to 'married' by notifying the authorities. Registered partnerships will be abolished on 01 March 2017, when the law to allow same-sex marriage enters into force [R1.16].

On 20 February 2015, President Sauli Niinistö signed same-sex marriage bill - the first bill petitioned by the public - into law. The new law making marriage gender neutral will come into force on 1 March 2017 [R1.15].

On 12 December 2014, in a second vote, the Parliament voted 101-90 in favour of a legislative proposal to introduce equal marriage rights on 01 March 2017 [R1.14].

On 10 December 2014, it was reported that the Parliament - at the behest of James Hirvisaari, former Finns Party member and now sole MP for the Muutos2011 party - will re-vote on the previously approved same-sex marriage bill [R1.13].

On 28 November 2014, the Parliament voted 105-92 with 1 absentee to approve a gender-neutral marriage bill. The law will not take effect until 2016 at the earliest [R1.12] as the bill will now proceed to the Finnish Parliament's Grand Committee before returning to be reviewed by all members of parliament.


Section 1 of the Marriage Act (avioliittolaki, äktenskapslagen; Act no. 411/1987) provides that marriage is between a woman and a man [L1.11].

Section 115 of the Marriage Act (as amended by Act no. 226/2001) provides the following:

"A marriage concluded between a woman and a man in a foreign State before an authority of that State shall be valid in Finland if it is valid in the State in which it was concluded or in a State of which either spouse was a citizen or in which either spouse was habitually resident at the time of conclusion of the marriage." [L1.11].


On 28 November 2014, the Parliament was expected to vote on a proposal which would make marriage gender-neutral, and extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples [R1.10].

On 25 June 2014, the parliamentary legal affairs committee was reported to have rejected 10-6 a bid to legislate for equal marriage, despite a petition in support signed by over 166,000 people. The parliament is expected to consider the bill after September [R1.9].

On 20 February 2014, the Parliament began debating the gay marriage bill as a consequence of the citizen petition signed by more than 100,000 in 24 hours and a final tally of 166,000 names [R1.8].

On 19 March 2013, it was reported that after gathering 50,000 signatures in one day on a petition organised by The I Do 2013, lawmakers have been forced to reconsider an equal marriage bill rejected by the Legal Affairs Committee on 01 March [R1.7].

On 27 February 2013, the parliamentary legal committee voted 9-8 against a same-sex marriage bill [R1.6].

On 21 March 2012, seventy-six of the 200 members of parliament have signed a draft amendment to the law that would legalize same-sex marriage. Parliament sent the bill to a committee [R1.5].

In July 2010, Justice Minister Tuija Brax said work on legalising same-sex marriage and adoption by married same-sex couples had begun. The law should be in place by 2012 [R1.4].

Previously:

In April 2010, the governing majority was expected to implement a motion to be put forward at the next party congress in support of gender-neutral marriage and adoption [R1.3].

In September 2001, the Finnish parliament approved a law allowing gays to officially register as couples and obtain some of the rights of married couples but not the right to adopt each other's children [R1.2] .

The law, came into effect 01 March 2002 [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 16 July 2014, the European Court of Human Rights denied the application of Heil Hämäläinen (who underwent post-marriage male-to-female gender reassignment surgery in 2009) to remain married, ruling it was not disproportionate for Finland to require the conversion of a marriage into a registered partnership [C2.4], [R2.3].

On 13 November 2012, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously held a law that would invalidate the marriage of a post-operative transsexual if she registered her new gender identity did not violate any rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights [C2.2], [R2.1].

R1.18 ReutersUS: Finnish parliament confirms same-sex marriage law 17 FEB 17
R1.17 ChristianToday: Finland: Church won't allow pastors to officiate gay weddings 05 SEP 16
R1.16 YLE News: Parliament approves same-sex marriage legislation 17 FEB 16
R1.15 GayStarNews: Finland president signs gay marriage law - couples will have to wait to get married until 2017 20 FEB 15
R1.14 SputnikNews: Finnish Parliament Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill in Second Vote 12 DEC 14
R1.13 yle: HS: Parliament to vote again on same-sex marriage bill 10 DEC 14
R1.12 yle: Finnish Parliament approves same-sex marriage 28 NOV 14
L1.11 Judgment: Case of Hämäläinen v. Finland No. 37359/09 (at para 24) PDF 402.08kb, 16 JUL 14
R1.10 PinkNews: Finnish Parliament prepares for close vote on same-sex marriage 26 NOV 14
R1.9 GayStarNews: Finland votes against gay marriage - again 25 JUN 14
R1.8 EdgeOnTheNet: Finland's Parliament Debates Gay Marriage Bill 20 FEB 14
R1.7 PinkNews: 50,000 sign petition in one day forcing lawmakers to consider equal marriage 19 MAR 13
R1.6 GayStarNews: Finland votes against gay marriage 01 MAR 13
R1.5 Reuters UK: Finnish MPs seek to legalize same-sex marriage 21 MAR 12
R1.4 PinkPaper: Finland working to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption 13 JUL 10
R1.3 IceNews: Finnish parliamentary support for gay marriage and adoption rights 23 APR 10
R1.2 Reuters: Finland Approves Gay Couples Law 28 SEP 01
R1.1 Ananova (UK): Gay Partnerships Legalised in Finland 01 MAR 02

Courts & Tribunals

C2.4 Judgment: Case of Hämäläinen v. Finland No. 37359/09 PDF 402.08kb, 16 JUL 14
R2.3 euObserver: European court strikes down transgender marriage case 16 JUL 14
C2.2 ECHR: Case of H. v. Finland 13 NOV 12
R2.1 Jurist: The Impact of H. v. Finland: Law invalidating post-operative transsexual marriage upheld 14 NOV 12
Military Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

Finland has compulsory military service but men may be excused on the grounds of homosexuality [R1.1].

R1.1 Associated Press: World's Militaries and Gay Stance 12 JAN 00
Parenting, Adoption, Fostering Legislation/Cases/References
1.

National

In July 2010, Justice Minister Tuija Brax said work on legalising same-sex marriage and adoption by married same-sex couples had begun. The law should be in place by 2012 [R1.5].


On 15 May 2009, the parliament voted to allow gay couples in registered partnerships to adopt the biological children of their partners [R1.4], effective in September [The Advocate: 20 July 09].

Previously:

In September 2003, a working group of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health would allow "in-family adoptions" for registered same-sex couples. This would mean that one of the partners would be able to get parental rights to the biological child of the other partner [R1.3].

In the Autumn 2003, the government was giving consideration to allowing homosexual couples to adopt children within the family [R1.2].


On 28 September 2001, parliament approved a law allowing gay men and lesbians to register as couples and obtain some of the rights of married couples but not the right to adopt each other's children [R1.1].

R1.5 PinkPaper: Finland working to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption 13 JUL 10
R1.4 PinkNews.co.uk: Finland allows gay couples to adopt partner's children 15 MAY 09
R1.3 Helsingin Sanomat: Working Group Would Allow Same-sex Couples Limited Adoption Rights 03 SEP 03
R1.2 YLE24 Online: Gay Activists Welcome Adoption Proposal 13 JUL 03
R1.1 Reuters: Finland approves Gay Couples Law 28 SEP 01

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