Interesting to note that 59% of the respondents would not feel uncomfortable in a social setting involving gays, and 60% for lesbians. I am wondering what could the LGBT+ people do to make heterosexuals so uncomfortable; would they be threatening their heteronormativity by being themselves? In most cases the poor people probably don’t even know how many homosexuals might have been hanging out with them or even shook their hands. 45% of the respondents believe that allowing same-sex people to marry would lessen the value of marriage between a man and a woman. This part is very confusing to me, how can a marriage between two loving people diminish anyone else’s love? Only 38% agree that same-sex couples should have the right to marry and even less (27%) agree that same-sex partners should be able to adopt children. There is one development though! First time in the history of this survey, there are more people supporting (49%) than opposing (39%) the legal registration of cohabitation for same-sex partnership.
I cannot say I am surprised by the numbers; I have always said that while young Estonians are pretty open-minded and chill about the subject, I still see an overwhelming discomfort with, and hateful things uttered on the subject. The older the people are, the less they are okay with people loving who they wish – also, very evident in my own family where my grandmother is very adamantly against homosexuals. I believe my parents are also a bit confused on the subject because I haven’t really seen support from them but at least they do not say hateful things. The rise of our Conservative People’s Party does not help with the situation, as they are very focused on protecting the family and getting the “homo propaganda” out of our schools, kindergarten, and our small country, where women only exist to make babies.
We had a win in 2014, when Estonia was the first formerly Soviet-occupied country that passed a law allowing same-sex couples to legally register their partnership. However, the implementing acts were not passed because of governmental change and the situation remains unclear. Additionally, Estonia does not recognize same-sex marriages. In 2018, Estonian Supreme Court affirmed that a same-sex marriage between an Estonian and an American, wedded in the US, is not recognized by the state and the American does not have the rights to live or work in our country. I heard their story at a LGBT+ event and I cannot imagine what they must go through – wishing to live together, even having had the opportunity to get married only to have our country not recognize a piece of paper just because they are the same sex. It’s hard enough falling in love with someone outside of Europe, I wish the situation was easier for the people involved. There should be no borders when it comes to love.
On Rainbow Europe map, Estonia ranks 21st among the 49 European countries (including non-EU) with regard to policies and laws protecting the rights of the LGBT+ community, according to ILGA. The ranking called Rainbow Europe records country’s legal standards (regarding equality, family issues, hate speech, legal gender recognition, freedom of expression and asylum rights) to compare with its European neighbors. To improve the situation in Estonia, we should start with our government, considering how people in power choose to regard people different from them quite negatively. By contrast, our first female president, Kersti Kaljulaid, is openly supportive of same-sex couples and draws attention to many flaws in Estonian society, such as talking about domestic violence in her speeches. Therefore, the political landscape and the society is becoming more and more polarized. Secondly, I hope that Estonia will overcome the legal limbo regarding same-sex partnership. Comparing Estonia to its neighbors, Finland ranks fourth in the list and Latvia 39th. It is harrowing how vast the difference is between the neighboring countries; we have a lot to learn from Finland.
Taking my country’s situation into account I really cannot say that I am proud to be Estonian. I have lived and am living abroad, and I wish I could offer better news about the situation in my country. Homophobia is not the only problem we should overcome – sexism, racism, alcoholism and domestic violence are some of the other demons we should confront. However, who I am is a proud bisexual woman hoping for a better future and better attitudes towards women, homosexuals and people of color in our small safe Estonia.