Finland’s parliament approved a bill establishing marriage equality on Friday, reports Reuters. Finnish lawmakers approved the legislation, initiated by citizens, by a vote of 105 to 92.
Although same-sex couples have had access to “registered partnerships” since 2002, the new law will end the legal distinction between opposite-sex and same-sex partnerships, giving same-sex couples equal access to the rights affiliated with marriage, including adoption and name-change privileges, according to Reuters.
Finland’s Prime Minister, Alexander Stubb — a member of the center-right National Coalition party — supported the measure, authoring an open letter urging Parliament to approve the legislation ahead of the vote. “Finland should strive to become a society where discrimination does not exist, human rights are respected and two adults can marry regardless of their sexual orientation," Stubb’s letter read, according to Reuters.
The new law is not expected to take effect until 2016 at the earliest, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Friday’s vote makes Finland the 12th European country to embrace marriage equality, and the last Nordic state to do so, notes Reuters.
“We commend the elected representatives of Finland for passing such historic legislation ensuring the nation’s LGBT citizens receive the rights they deserve, and we congratulate the LGBT activists and advocates who made this momentous day possible,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global in a statement Friday.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, England and Wales. After approving marriage equality legislation in February, Scotland will extend equal marriage rights to same-sex couples by the end of the year. Luxembourg also approved marriage equality this year, and is set to enact the new law in early 2015.