The Constitutional Committee and the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) discussed the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice to bring the Aliens Act into conformity with the Constitution. The content of the proposal is equal treatment of same-sex registered partners and married couples.
The Legal Affairs Committee supported the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice unanimously. “The principle of equal treatment of people in enabling cohabitation is contained both in the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia and the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and therefore the state of Estonia has to find a solution here so that the same-sex cohabiting partners would not be discriminated,” Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee Heljo Pikhof said.
The Constitutional Committee did not pass a decision on the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice today and will continue to discuss the issue in the week after the next. Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Kalle Laanet said that the Committee wished to get more detailed information from the Police and Border Guard Board on how the Board would ascertain the actual cohabitation of partners upon application for residence permit.
In the opinion of Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, § 118 of the Aliens Act is in conflict with § 12, § 26 and § 27 of the Constitution. Under current legislation, it is possible to issue a residence permit outside of the immigration quota to the same-sex cohabitation partner, who does not hold the EU citizenship, of a citizen of the European Union living in Estonia. But this can be done only in the case a citizen of the EU, who is not a citizen of Estonia, wishes to bring a citizen of a third country to Estonia for the purpose of cohabitation, or if a citizen of Estonia has lived in some other Member State of the EU before coming to Estonia.
Such a state of affairs is in conflict with the Constitution because it puts the citizens of Estonia living in Estonia into a worse situation in comparison to the citizens of other EU states living in Estonia and the citizens of Estonia who lived in other EU states. This is not in conformity with the Constitution of Estonia.
The Chancellor of Justice emphasised that the possible amendment should leave the right to assess actual partnership relations to the state of Estonia, in the same way it is now done in assessing marriages of convenience and civil partnerships of convenience.
It has not been decided yet when the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice will be discussed at the sitting of the Riigikogu.
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