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Amendments to Marriage Act and related legislative amendments

Ministry of Justice
10.2.2017 10.14
Press release

The amendment made to the Marriage Act allowing same-sex marriage in Finland will enter into force in the beginning of March. This amendment required amendments also to certain other provisions in order for these to be applicable to same-sex couples.

For example, the marriage formula to be followed in civil marriage ceremony has been changed into gender neutral form so that the words “husband” and “wife” have been replaced by the word “spouse”.

Registered partnership may be converted into marriage

As of 1 March 2017, couples who are living in a registered partnership will be able to convert their registered partnership into marriage by filing a joint notification. In other words, this change does not occur automatically.

The notification must be submitted to the local register office, and there is no deadline for submitting it. The local register office will make the necessary changes to the Population Information System based on the notification. A registered partnership is valid as a marriage as of the date on which the local register office receives the notification.

Only a partnership registered in Finland may be converted into marriage. A partnership registered abroad cannot be converted into marriage in Finland because registered partnership is not a globally consistent concept.

Registration of partnership no longer possible

Sex-same couples do not have the possibility to register their partnership as of the beginning of March. In all other respects, the Act on Registered Partnerships remains in force. The Act on Registered Partnerships will continue to be applied to partnerships registered before the entry into force of the amended Marriage Act.

In other words, registered partnership as a legal institution will continue to exist, but it is no longer possible to conclude new registered partnerships. In future, registered partnership is not an alternative to marriage.

Changes to the requirements for legal recognition of the gender of transgender people

The requirement of unmarried status will be removed from the Act on legal recognition of the gender of transgender people in the beginning of March. According to the current provision, a person applying for legal recognition of gender must not be married or in a registered partnership. Furthermore, the provision on the conversion of marriage into registered partnership upon recognition of gender will be removed from the Act.

Amendment of the Freedom of Religion Act applies to all parents

According to the Freedom of Religion Act, the religious affiliation of a child is decided by the persons having custody of the child jointly. Until now, however, mother alone may have decided on the religious affiliation of a child within one year from the birth of the child, if the persons having custody of the child have not agreed on the matter after the child was born.

As of the beginning of March, this is no longer possible; instead, the persons who have custody of a child must always decide on the child’s religious affiliation together. If a unanimous joint decision is not possible and the court has not issued any separate decision on the division of responsibilities between the persons having custody of the child, the child is not made a member of any religious community.

Adoption becomes possible

According to the Adoption Act, only married spouses may adopt a child jointly. This means that as of 1 March, after the entry into force of the amended Marriage Act, same-sex married spouses may also adopt a child jointly.

Inquiries:

Antti T. Leinonen, Director of Legislation, tel. +358 (0) 2951 50264 (email: [email protected]),
Outi Kemppainen, Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 2951 50260 (email: [email protected]), and
Laura Määttänen, Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 2951 50332 (email: [email protected])

 
Jari Lindström
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