Approximately 250-300 people on 18 October gathered at Tallinn’s Freedom Square in protest against a referendum on the definition of marriage, proposed by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party – also known as EKRE; the populist party, part of the coalition government, wants to define marriage as a union of a man and a woman in the Estonian constitution and is openly homophobic.
While the rally, “Everyone has the right to marry”, was organised weeks in advance, it took place just two days after the Russian edition of Deutsche Welle – a German public international broadcaster – published an interview with Mart Helme, Estonia’s interior minister and EKRE’s deputy leader, in which Helme expressed openly hostile views towards gays.
Helme’s remarks triggered a serious crisis in the governing coalition, made up of EKRE, the populist Centre Party and the right-wing Isamaa. The opposition parties – the Reform Party and the Social Democrats – have called Helme to resign.
EKRE wants to define marriage as a union of a man and a woman in the Estonian constitution and is therefore proposing to hold a referendum on the matter during the country’s municipal elections in autumn 2021.
The Sunday’s rally, organised by the youth wing of the Social Democrats in collaboration with the Estonian LGBT Association, was largely peaceful. However, a small group of counter-protesters – four to five young guys wearing masks and carrying placards – had also gathered nearby, but were sent away by the police.
Photos by Grete Maria Neppo.