LGBT rights in Finland

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LGBT rights in Finland
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Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1971,
age of consent equalized in 1999
Gender identity/expression Transsexual persons allowed to change legal gender
Recognition of
Registered partnerships since 2002
Military service Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation and gender identity protections

Finland as a whole is considered to be liberal on gay rights issues. Finland legalized same-sex unions in 2002.

Timeline of the legislation

  • 1889 Homosexuality is defined as a crime in the new Penal Code and punishable by a maximum of two years in prison.[1]
  • 1971 Homosexuality is decriminalized, but "promotion" of it remains illegal.[1]
  • 1981 Homosexuality is removed from the illness classification list.[1]
  • 1995 Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited in the Penal Code.[1]
  • 1999 The Penal Code is revised, ruling that there is no longer any age of consent difference between sexual acts performed by heterosexuals and those performed by homosexuals. The prohibition of "promotion of homosexuality" is removed.[2]
  • 2001 The law on registered partnership[3] is passed. It follows the same regulations as the law on (different-sex) marriages, though excluding the right to take the spouse's name and the right of adoption. First couples were registered on March 8, 2002.[1]
  • 2002 The law on the gender confirmation of transgender individuals[4] comes into force.
  • 2004 The Non-Discrimination Act[5] act comes into force, prohibiting direct and indirect discrimination and harassment based on age, ethnic or national origin, citizenship, language, religion, belief, opinion, health, disability, sexual orientation or any other ground in connection to the person.
  • 2005 The new act on gender equality comes into force. The act applies also for discrimination faced by trans-gendered people. According to a statement given by government’s committee for employment and equality, the discrimination regulations are to be interpreted in a way that they also cover discrimination based on a sex change.[1]
  • 2006 The law on assisted insemination (artificial insemination) is passed in Parliament. The law allows treatments also for single women and female couples. Prior to the law, a number of clinics have provided treatments for female couples. Surrogacy is illegal.[1]
  • 2009 The law on adoption within registered homosexual couples is passed in the Parliament on May 15, with 109 MPs voting for and 28 against the proposal, out of 199. The law gives the other person the right to adopt his or her spouse's child, which declares both the persons as the child's official parents.[6]

An EU poll in December 2006 puts Finnish support for same-sex marriage at 45 % and placing Finland 12th in the survey conducted in 27 EU countries.[7] According to a survey conducted by the newspaper Kotimaa, on March 11, 2010, the parliament elected in Spring 2007 is split on the issue of gay marriage, with 54 % opposing and 46 % supporting a gender-neutral marriage law.[8]

Recent LGBT rights-related events

Dismissal of editor-in-chief Johanna Korhonen

LGBT rights in Finnish worklife came under heavy discussion on late September, 2008, when Finnish journalist Johanna Korhonen, living in a registered partnership with a woman, was dismissed by Alma Media from the position of editor-in-chief for Lapin Kansa, a newspaper owned by Alma Media, before she even started working. According to Alma Media CEO Kai Telanne, the cause of dismissal was lack of trust, caused by Korhonen not mentioning her spouse's candidacy in the 2008 municipal elections — i.e., Telanne says it is a policy within Alma Media for editor-in-chief applicants to disclose all their political connections.[9] However, Korhonen claims that the real cause was that the employing company found out about her sexual orientation after the recruitment process, where she simply said she has a spouse and two children, not mentioning her spouse's sex. Arto Nieminen, the spokesman for Finnish Journalist Union, says he has never heard of people, applying to become editors-in-chiefs for Alma Media newspapers, being asked about the political activity of their spouses.[10] She also claimed that Alma Media offered her 100,000 € for not disclosing the cause of dismissal.[11] Telanne denied this allegation, saying the sum was a severance payment not paid in reward for falling silent for the cause.[12]. Korhonen filed a lawsuit at Helsinki District Court against Alma Media for the dismissal she deems unlawful.[13] In June 2009, Korhonen lost the case,[14] but appealed the decision to Helsinki Court of Appeals, which, having an opinion opposite to that of the District Court, overturned the sentence and awarded Korhonen a total of about 80,000 € for wrongful termination.[15] Alma Media is considering to request a leave to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.[16]

Summary table

Introduction Date Year
Homosexuality legal Yes 1971
Homosexuality declassified as an illness Yes 1981
Gays allowed to serve in the military Yes 1981
Anti-discrimination laws in all areas, (incl. hate speech) Yes 1995
Equal age of consent Yes 1999
Right to change legal gender Yes 2002
Recognition of same-sex couples as registered partnerships Yes 2002
Anti-discrimination laws covering gender identity in all areas Yes 2005
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes 2006
Stepchild adoption Yes 2009
MSMs allowed to donate blood No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Transvestism declassified as an illness No
Same-sex marriages (based on civil marriages) No
Blessings and marriages for gay couples in Church of Finland No

See also

  • SETA main LGBT rights group in Finland


  • Note: the English translations of Finnish legislation at[17] are used by the Finnish Ministry of Justice.


*Some information provided in whole or in part by