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The first reading of the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Holding a Referendum on the Issue of Adoption of the Cohabitation Bill (650 SE), Initiated by the Members of the Riigikogu” (704 OE), submitted by the Pro Patria and Res Public Union Faction, was adjourned in the Riigikogu. It provides for the holding of a referendum on this issue on 1 March 2015.

In the opinion of the initiators of the draft Resolution, the Cohabitation Act that provides for registration of same-sex cohabitation would change the concept of family adopted by the society so much that a referendum should be held to decide on that Act.

Urmas Reinsalu who presented the Bill on behalf of the initiators said that in the Estonian society the situation has arisen that if the Cohabitation Act is passed in a hurry in its current form, then a large share of people will feel that the majority of the Riigikogu will have behaved against the understandings of the people.

“Likewise, if the Riigikogu does not pass this Act now, we will have a situation where many people for whom this is also a matter of the recognition of their rights in the society at a certain political level will feel as if they have been depreciated and their aspirations have been rejected,” Reinsalu said. “Our proposal is clear and unambiguous. In this matter that concerns a very large share of people in the society to a very great extent, the people themselves should be given the opportunity to decide so that the Estonian citizens would say themselves whether they are in favour of it or whether they are against it.”

Reinsalu noted that the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction is also ready to withdraw, under certain conditions, the draft Resolution providing for a referendum. “If the initiators of the Cohabitation Act assume the position that the proceedings on this Cohabitation Act will not be continued in such a hurry with two readings in one week and before parliamentary elections, but time will be taken to hold a dialogue in the society and to look for solutions that unite and do not separate, then that will certainly be a reasonable way to look for a consensus in the society,” he said. “And in the case when there is a readiness for such a compromise, we will also be ready to withdraw this draft Resolution from the proceedings before a final vote.”

Väino Linde who made a report on behalf of the Constitutional Committee said that the Committee had not supported the draft Resolution proposing a referendum on the issue of the Cohabitation Act.

The first reading of the draft Resolution submitted by the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction will be resumed at tomorrow’s sitting. The second reading of the Cohabitation Bill (650 SE), initiated by 40 members of the Riigikogu, was also transferred to tomorrow’s sitting.

At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu passed with 77 votes in favour the Resolution on Amendment of the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Estonian Delegation to the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania” (720 OE), submitted by the Foreign Affairs Committee, which provides for the exclusion of the member of the delegation Jaanus Tamkivi from the delegation, and the appointment of Andre Sepp as a member of the delegation.

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://www.riigikogu.ee/?op=steno&stcommand=stenogramm&day=06&date=1412668680