- September 2009 : The Civil union Law
The law regarding same-sex partners was passed by the Parliament of Finland at the end of September 2001, and came into force in March 2002. Under this legislation the same rights and obligations as spouses, with certain exceptions, are conferred on those registering their same-sex union. However, the pair relationship is a legal institution of a different nature from matrimony.
The ramifications of the law manifested themselves in the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in May 2002, when two motions put forward by delegates were addressed. In one of these it was proposed that a person living in a registered same-sex union should not be allowed to hold office or work as an employee of the Church, while the other motion proposed the preparation of alternative forms of service to bless the same-sex union and the home. In November 2003 the General Synod decided that the matter of the ramifications of the law in the Church be transferred to the Bishops’ Conference in order to explore its theological and juridical dimensions.
A working group mandated by the Bishops’ Conference prepared a document for the Bishops’ Conference about the theological and legal aspects related with the consequences of the Civil Union Law. It was discussed in the Bishops’ Conference in September 2009 and the Bishops’ Conferences statement was published in February 2010. The Bishops’ Council proposed that there should not be a separate ritual for blessing same-sex unions, but a moment of prayer for and with the couple.