February 21, 2015 at 12:11 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Finnish president signs same-sex marriage bill
Finland, gay news, Washington Blade

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Feb. 20, 2015, signed his country’s same-sex marriage bill into law. (Photo by Ernests Dinka/Saeimas Kanceleja; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Friday signed into law a bill that extends marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Niinistö signed the measure roughly four months after lawmakers in the Scandinavian country narrowly approved the measure. They considered the bill after supporters of marriage rights for same-sex couples collected more than 166,000 signatures to bring it before the Finnish Parliament.

Neighboring Sweden is among the European countries in which gays and lesbians can legally marry.

Estonia last October became the first former Soviet republic to legally recognize same-sex partnerships.

Irish voters on May 22 will consider whether to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. A Pope Francis-backed referendum on proposed amendments to the Slovak constitution that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and banned gays and lesbians from adopting children failed earlier this month because of insufficient voter turnout.

Finland’s same-sex marriage law is scheduled to take effect on March 1, 2017.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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