Estonia Becomes First Former Soviet State To Approve Same-Sex Relationships

Russia may be trying to reclaim former USSR member states, but it might leave Estonia alone after its latest human rights achievement. 

The Associated Press reports:

Estonia on Thursday became the first former Soviet nation to legalize gay partnerships, while Kyrgyzstan — another ex-Soviet republic thousands of kilometers east — considers anti-gay legislation.

The parallel moves reflect starkly divergent paths taken by the countries that once were parts of the Soviet empire.

In Estonia, lawmakers voted 40-38 vote to approve a partnership act that recognizes the civil unions of all couples regardless of gender. Twenty-three lawmakers were absent or abstained in the third and final reading of the bill.

The new law will gives those in civil unions — heterosexual or gay — almost the same rights as married couples, including financial, social and health benefits provided by the government and legal protection for children. It does not give adoption rights for couples in such unions but does allow one partner to adopt the biological child of the other.

It comes into force in January 2016, after it has been signed by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves who supported the bill.

On a side note, I enjoyed a trip to Tallinn (Estonia's capital city) in May. Besides being an incredibly-preserved Medieval city, I encountered nothing but gay-friendly attitudes among the locals. Go visit!