by Hilary White
TALLINN, May 27, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A small group of family campaigners has for the moment turned back an internationally-backed effort to create “civil union” legislation in Estonia. In a surprising turnaround, within 24 hours of the launch of a petition the bill has been withdrawn for further consideration and is not expected to be reintroduced until the autumn. The signature drive was a re-play of a similar outcome a year ago when 38,000 people said no to a bill that proposed to create “gay marriage” in Estonia.
In April this year, a group of forty parliamentarians tried again, bringing forward their Civil Partnership Act, the most recent of several efforts since 2005, that proposed to confer legal recognition on homosexual relationships, establishing that children can have “two mothers” or “two fathers.” Its supporters argued both that the bill was not exclusively aimed at same-sex partners and that it was in no way a prelude to the introduction of “gay marriage.” Opponents, however, said that the bill was specifically intended to “undermine the concept of family and the meaning of the basic values of our society.”
Perekonna ja Traditsiooni Kaitseks (Foundation for the Defence of Life and Family) launched a website asking concerned Estonians to send an email to parliamentarians “categorically” rejecting the bill. Within 24 hours of its launch, the petition had “gone viral” throughout the country and collected over 44,000 signatures and by today has sent over 182,507 letters to all 101 members of parliament.
Varro Vooglaid, the author of the petition and the head of the Foundation, told LifeSiteNews, “We started the protest campaign on 19 May and on that same day the first news came that the bill might not be passed before autumn. The message was repeated during the week.” The bill’s sponsors had originally intended to see the bill passed June 23rd before parliament’s summer break.
Responding to reports that some lawmakers were sending the emails directly to their trash files, Vooglaid said it is a “glimpse of the understanding of democracy of the kind of people who govern us. This is how much they actually care about the views and voice of the people.”
The letter read, “I categorically protest against the Civil Partnership Act!” It pointed to Section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia that says lawmakers are obliged to “protect the institution of the family as the foundation of the preservation and growth of the nation and as the basis of society.”
“And the family, according to the meaning of constitution, is founded upon the union of a man and a woman. Therefore, all members of the parliament who have sworn fidelity to the constitutional order are obliged to protect the institution of the family from ideologically motivated attempts of subversion and radical redefinition.”
The letter warned parliamentarians that their support for changing the definition of the family would have political repercussions in upcoming elections. “Should parliament, however, decide to proceed with the Civil Partnership Act, it has to be put on a referendum, because adopting this law would mean the redefinition of the foundation of the society – something that only the people are entitled to do.”
A statement from the Moscow Patriarchate of the Estonian Orthodox Church supported the initiative, saying that instead of same-sex recognition parliament should enact legislation to support the “flagging institution of marriage and the traditional family." The Orthodox statement called for strong state guarantees to protect “the whole family, consisting of husband, wife and the family, with the children born.”
The Orthodox Plenary said they “think it is extremely unfortunate that our country’s laws will directly contradict the laws of God, which are based upon the revelation to mankind in the Ten Commandments.”
“Really, our church does not see reason why the Estonian government needs to take such a step, which threatens to weaken our country and may cause us to lose respect for the country by a huge number of citizens.”
Vooglaid said that his group had communicated with the members of parliament “on numerous occasions the message that should they support the bill we will do all we can to mobilize tens of thousands of people not to vote for them.” Parliamentary elections are set for March 1, 2015.
This week, the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups held their annual meeting this year on a cruise ship making stops at Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. This year’s theme, the group said, is “Sailing with Hope,” taken from a popular Estonian myth of a “white ship” that “brings freedom or takes people away to a better land.” During the conference a representative of Geikristlaste Kogu (the Estonian Association of Gay Christians) gave a featured presentation on “our hopes for the future.”
Asked why such a group would take such an interest in tiny Estonia, with a population of only 1.2 million and very few active Christians, Vooglaid said that Estonia is seen as an ideal “gateway” to Eastern Europe by homosexualist activists.
“Due to its almost completely destroyed Christian culture,” he said, the formerly majority Lutheran Estonia will be the means of “breaking down Eastern European cultural resistance” to the homosexual and gender ideology.
Estonia is regularly described as one of the “least religious” countries in the world. The most recent statistics from the country found that 54 per cent of the population say they have no religion and 16.7 per cent are “unspecified.” 9.9 per cent are still Lutheran; 16.2 per cent of residents, mainly ethnic Russians, are Orthodox and 2.2 per cent are listed as “other Christian.”
“The homosexual movement knows that they have almost no chance whatsoever of succeeding in Poland, Lithuania or Latvia, and therefore they are trying to break a hole by attacking the moral foundations of the society in Estonia,” Vooglaid said.
A 2009 poll found that only 32 per cent of the population were supportive of same-sex “marriage”. 40 per cent of younger people approved, but only 6 per cent of their parents were in favor. By 2012 that number had dropped to 34 per cent overall. 51 per cent of ethnic Estonians and only 35 percent of Russians supported same-sex civil unions. Vooglaid confirmed that the homosexualist movement wants to create the impression of being a “grassroots movement.” “The reality, however, is that the homosexual movement has almost zero popular support in Estonia,” he said. “Everything they are able to do is because of extensive support and funding from the European Union, the Soros Foundation (Open Society Foundation) and other interest groups that originate from outside our country.”
He added that the movement did not expect such strong and ongoing popular resistance. At least five attempts have been made since 2005 to introduce some form of same-sex recognition and all have failed.
Vooglaid pointed to the escalating crisis in Ukraine and the fact that Estonia’s second largest ethnic population group is Russian, sent as settlers during the Soviet era. He said that representatives of religious organizations have warned parliamentarians that giving a legal recognition to the homosexual lifestyle could “bring about a serious security risk to the country.” It would “alienate a huge portion of the society from our legal and political system” and prompt them to look towards a possible alliance with the Russian Federation, “where respect for family values is gradually being restored.”