Gay marriage is not recognized in Finland, and it appears to be staying that way at least for now.
The European Court of Human Rights has declined to issue a ruling that, as a practical matter, would have imposed same-sex marriage on that country and perhaps by precedent other countries in the euro zone.
According to the court, "[I]t cannot be said that there exists any European consensus on allowing same-sex marriages."
The case was filed by a married man who started living as a woman and subsequently underwent sex-change surgery. The plaintiff claimed that existing Finnish law violated article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty signed by 47 European countries. That particular provision bans government interference in a citizen's "private and family life."
So far, 10 of these countries have granted recognition to same-sex marriage.
Breitbart London summarized the issue that came before the highest human rights court in Strasbourg, Germany:
"The case arose after a man in Finland, who was married with a child, decided he wanted to live as a woman. After a sex-change operation, he attempted to change his governmental 'male identity number' to a female one. He was turned down because, according to law, he needed his wife's consent to change their man-woman marriage to a 'registered partnership,' which she had withheld. The problem in short is that this married man and woman could no longer be considered married in Finland if he changed his sex to female because Finland does not allow same-sex marriage. The couple would be required to accept a 'registered partnership,' something they objected to."
In its written decision, the court explained that a civil union in Finland for same-sex couples provides comparable legal protections to traditional marriage. Against that backdrop, under Finish law, the plaintiff has three options, the court explained: status quo including the male identity number, obtain a registered partnership with the wife's consent, or get divorced.
The court wrote that it was "mindful of the fact that the applicant is not advocating same-sex marriage in general but merely wants to preserve her own marriage. However, it considers that the applicant's claim, if accepted, would in practice lead to a situation in which two persons of the same sex could be married to each other. As already stated above, no such right currently exists in Finland."
Added the majority opinion: "The Court reiterates its case-law according to which Article 8 of the Convention cannot be interpreted as imposing an obligation on Contracting States to grant same-sex couples access to marriage."
Following gender reassignment surgery, a marriage evidently automatically converts to a registered partnership, or vice versa, under Finnish law if the non-transexual spouse agrees to the gender change.
Responding to the court decision, an Amnesty International official declared, "With this deeply disappointing and unjust ruling, the European Court of Human Rights is condoning Finland's repressive laws affecting transgender people and reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes. These laws are disproportionate and discriminatory. They are forcing [the plaintiff] to choose between legal recognition of her gender identity and staying married with her partner. Having to choose one over the other is a violation of her rights."
Commented the plaintiff in an open letter, "I will stay married after this judgment. There is nothing on earth that will get us separated. We won't terminate our marriage. We do not call it cis or trans or whatever. It is a religious marriage as I have proven to the court."
A separate article in the convention "enshrines the traditional concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman," the court noted, however.
Separately, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, a Christian-owned bakery in Belfast, Northern Ireland, faces potential discrimination charges for refusing to bake a cake that promoted gay marriage. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland although it is elsewhere in the U.K.
In the U.S., judges at the federal and state level have given the go-ahead to gay marriage in a number of states even in instances where voters have amended a state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Do you agree or disagree with the court's decision that gay marriage generally falls short of qualifying as a human right?