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social sciences

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Homosexuality was finally decriminalized in Finland in 1971, but "promotion" of it remained illegal. This prohibition on the "promotion of homosexuality" was finally lifted in 1999. The country's criminal code was also revised in 1999, changing the age of consent to 16 for both heterosexuals and homosexuals.

Although Denmark officially recognized same-sex civil unions in 1989, and Norway and Sweden followed suit in 1993, Finland remained the last of the Nordic countries to adopt a registered partnership act.

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A proposal for registered partnership legislation was first introduced in Finland in 1993, but did not pass. Revised versions of the bill were next introduced in 1996 and 1999, but also failed to be adopted.

On September 28, 2001, following heated debate and vehement opposition by conservative Christian groups, the Finnish Parliament finally passed the 1999 version of the Registered Partnership Act with minor revisions.

The act took effect on March 8, 2002.

The Finnish act is similar to the registered partnership acts of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden both in its scope and its limitations and exceptions: there is no right to adopt children, either each other's children or unrelated children, and no possibility to have a church wedding. The legislation permits joint custody of children, however, and grants immigration rights to a foreign partner.

Despite the legality of same-sex partnerships in Finland, bishops of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church have continued to prohibit the blessing of gay unions in church. However, they do allow those registered in homosexual relationships to perform official church duties.

In 2004, Finland's Equality Act went into force, prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination and harassment based on age, ethnic or national origin, language, religion, beliefs, opinions, health, disability, and sexual orientation.

In 2005, revisions to the Equality Act extended protection against discrimination to transgendered individuals.

GLBTQ Organizations and Pride Events

Founded in 1974 in Helsinki, SETA (Seksuaalinen Tasavertaisuus, which stands for "Sexual Equality") is the national Finnish human rights organization in the field of legal equality and social justice for sexual and gender minorities, including lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgendered people.

SETA gathers and provides information on sexual and gender diversity, and provides consultative and support services for gender and sexual minorities not available elsewhere.

SETA also publishes Z Magazine, the largest glbtq publication in Finland, with a circulation of about 4,000.

Helsinki's first political gay group, Pink Rose, was founded during the Helsinki Pride celebration in July 2006. Its aim is to enhance discussion on the rights of sexual minorities in Finland.

The organization's guiding principles are based on the values of the Social Democratic Party, primarily those of equality and mutual respect for each other.

The day Pink Rose was founded, the second vice president of the Finnish Social Democratic Party and Minister of Labor, Tarja Filatov, joined the association.

Helsinki Pride Week, which is held annually in late June, is Finland's largest glbtq pride event. Helsinki Pride is a major summer event attracting thousands of visitors with exhibitions, workshops, discussion groups, parades, and many other activities and events for the glbtq community. Over 10,000 people took part in the week-long events in 2007, with more than 3,000 people participating in the pride parade.

Vinokino, Finland's Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, is held each year in September, with screenings in four cities: Helsinki, Oulu, Tampere, and Turku. The festival began in 1991 and has become one of the major highlights for the community in Finland. The festival aims to promote gay visibility in Finland and bring minority representation to the forefront of public consciousness. In addition to screenings of gay and lesbian-themed films, including shorts and documentaries, the festival also features a number of supporting events and guest speakers.

Craig Kaczorowski

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social sciences >> Overview:  Adoption

Although there are frequently social and legal barriers to overcome, adoption is an important way in which lesbian and gay male couples create families.

social sciences >> Overview:  Anti-discrimination Statutes and Ordinances

Anti-discrimination statutes and ordinances have made a real difference in the lives of millions of glbtq individuals.

social sciences >> Overview:  Denmark

Denmark has a reputation for sexual liberation, tolerance, and progressive social policy in regards to glbtq issues.

social sciences >> Overview:  Finland

Like other Nordic countries, Finland is liberal in regards to gay rights, though it has been slower than its neighbors to assure glbtq equality.

social sciences >> Overview:   Norway

Like most Scandinavian countries, Norway respects glbtq rights, and Norwegians are broadly tolerant of homosexuals.

social sciences >> Overview:  Russia

A cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe, Russia has a long, rich, and often violent heritage of varied influences and stark confrontations in regard to its patterns of same-sex love.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sweden

A liberal and democratic kingdom, Sweden has a reputation for sexual openness, yet it maintains a law that punishes buyers of sex from prostitutes.


"Lutheran Church to Allow Gay Workers--But Reject Gay Unions." The Associated Press (October 7, 2003):

Merin, Yuval. Equality for Same-Sex Couples: The Legal Recognition of Gay Partnerships in Europe and the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

SETA (Seksuaalinen Tasavertaisuus):

Vinha, Laura. "Finns Celebrate First Gay Weddings on Women's Day." Reuters (March 8, 2002):

Z Magazine:


    Citation Information
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Helsinki  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated March 19, 2008  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  


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