Same-sex couple’s partnership recognised in Estonia in landmark ruling

A same-sex couple has had their partnership recognised by Estonian authorities after the law which discriminated against them was deemed unconstitutional.


Estonia has ditched its previous policy and juridical practice by finally deciding to give temporary residents the right to register same-sex partners of Estonians, allowing them to live a family life in Estonia.

Earlier this month, Estonian Police and Border Patrol accepted an application for temporary residences submitted by Us citizen Sarah Raud who is married to her Estonian partner Kristiina Raud.

Sarah and Kristiina Raud married in the US in 2015 and decided to live in Estonia. Estonian authorities refused to issue the temporary residence permit to Sarah, and so the couple went to court.

Last year, an Estonian court stated that the state was not required to issue a temporary residence permit as they did not legally recognise the couple’s union.

The couple took the case to court again, and on June 5 they registered their partnership under Registered Partnership Act, and Sarah reapplied for the temporary residence permit once again. It took Estonian authorities over a year to process the application, but they accepted Sarah’s application.

Authorities referred to a decision made by the State Court which admitted that the section of the law which discriminates against same-sex partners of Estonian citizens is unconstitutional.

Kari käsper, the Executive Director of the Estonian Human Rights Centre told “It is positive that the state has taken the direction to behave with same-sex couples in a more humane and dignified way. there is no justifiable reason to treat the foreign partners in a same-sex relationship worse than those couples where both of the partners are Estonians.”

Kristiina and Sarah expressed their satisfaction that the state has changed its practice, although the decision came too late for them. “We are very glad that the state of Estonia has changed their approach in regards of same sex couples and families and that Sarah could finally have the right to live in Estonia. However, the process was long and through that period we suffered under lot of stress due to the uncertainty and unstable future prospects and we grew apart. So, during the process, we decided to break up.”

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