Finland’s Parliament has voted down efforts to scupper plans for same-sex marriage to become legal just days before it is set to become law.
In November 2014, the Finnish Parliament passed a citizens’ initiative on gender-neutral marriage by a tight vote of 105-92, after a number of previous defeats.
The country’s President Sauli Niinistö signed marriage legislation into law a few months later, paving the way for weddings to begin on March 1.
But the law, which came about as a result of a public Citizen’s Initiative petition signed by over 167,000 voters, was under threat from a rival initiative signed by opponents of same-sex marriage which passed the 50,000 signatures required for a parliamentary debate.
The country’s parliament voted down the petition on Friday with 120 votes to 48.
Advocates still expect that equal marriage will become law on 1 March.
The country’s Parliament last year heard the case for blocking marriage after the ‘Genuine Matrimony Association’ succeeded in filing an Initiative to keep marriage “between a man and woman”.
Members of the right-wing Finns Party rallied against the law, with MP Mika Niikko suggesting the debate over the issue of gender-neutral marriage has focused excessively on the rights of adults, not those of children.
According to YLE, “several MPs” have also come to believe the 2014 parliamentary decision was “a mistake”, in the face of prolonged opposition from some anti-LGBT groups.
However, many stood up for equality in the chamber.
Centre Party MP Mikko Karna has apologised for the fact that the issue went to a vote once again.
“I personally apologise to rainbow families who will have to listen to the matter being debated once more,” he said.
As a candidate in 2015, Centre Party prime minister Juha Sipilä had indicated their party would not seek to undo the measure.
Same-sex marriage is set to become law on March 1 2017.
Until Finland legalises full same-sex marriage, after legally recognising same-sex relationships since 2002, it is the only Nordic country yet to legalise it.