Koska kampanja on Euroopan laajuinen, kirjoitan siihen liittyen myös englanniksi. Kielitaitoni saattaa olla hieman ruosteessa, mutta ehkä tärkeämpää on se mitä sanoo kuin se, miten hyvin osaa valita oikeat prepositiot.
I’m participating in the No Hate Speech Movement by Council of Europe’s Youth Department. The campaign will be launched this Friday but our training has already begun. This weeks assignment was to write about human rights. The right to marriage seemed a good theme for the post.
Love is a human right
I dare to say that the human right situation is relatively good in Finland. We are well off compared to many other countries. Still, it doesn’t mean that there are no breaches or violations of human rights. It doesn’t mean that our country is ready.
Today is a flag day in Finland. We are celebrating equality and flagging to the credit of Minna Canth, Finnish writer, feminist - and the only Finnish woman having a flag day dedicated to her.
Today we also witnessed a concrete and beautiful act of equality: the citizens’ initiative for gender-neutral marriage was opened for signatures and in 14,5 hours it was signed by the required 50 000 citizens. Collecting of the signatories will continue the next six months and in September the initiative will be handed over to the parliament.
At the end of February parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee decided by a narrow vote not to table the initiative for discussion and balloting. The accumulation of the required support means that lawmakers must now consider the bill.
In Finland homosexuality was illegal up until 1971. From March 1st 2002 same-sex couples have had the right to legally register their relationship. The civil union gives the couples same obligations as marriage but not the same rights. The same-sex couples can inherit each other but they don’t have the right to take the same surname or to adopt outside the family, for example. Finland remains the only Nordic country that does not recognize same-sex unions.
The 16th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.” Although it speaks about “men and women” it also says “without any limitations”. In my world sexual orientation mustn’t be a limitation on the right to marriage and found a family - on the right to love.
The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms goes a bit further. Its 12th article states that “Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.” Our national law doesn’t give the same opportunities to everybody in this particular (not only) case - yet. But laws are only social constructions made by human beings and can be changed.
Some of my brethren are homosexuals. There are homosexuals among my family members, friends, acquaintances and neighbours. Also at my office, in my football team, in my political party and in my university. And I think it’s totally wrong and gives me unfathomable sorrow that they are discriminated just because of falling in love with a person, not gender.
It’s inconceivable that so many people have to fight for their right to love on a daily basis. To ponder on what to tell other people about their families. To dread even, narrow-mindedness and hatred welling of some irrational fear. To register instead of marrying.
In this assignment I was asked to reflect on and write what human rights mean to me. Whether they are important for me or not. I guess no one would say that human rights are not important. Still we seem to have different opinions on what human rights are, what they mean and who they concern.
I think they concern every single human being. After all, they’re called human rights. Not heterosexuals’ rights or Europeans’ rights or some people’s rights but human rights. They are everybody’s business. We are all entitled and obliged to fight for equality and equal rights. The more we are the louder the voice.