The Finnish marriage movement, Aito Avioliitto (True Marriage Association), which aims to uphold marriage as the union between one man and one woman in law and in Finnish society, has been actively campaigning the last six months to raise the necessary signatures across Finland to challenge a gender-neutral “marriage” law passed by Parliament.
During the final week of active campaigning the group organized a visually attractive “flash-mob” in downtown Helsinki. They spread a massive 600 square meter (30m x 20m) flag with their movement’s logo in Narinkkatori Square and another in front of Helsinki’s cathedral. It took 10-15 volunteers to display the huge canvas.
During the demonstration in Narinkkatori Square, the president of the Aito Avioliitto Association, Jukka Rahkonen, reminded people in his speech of the uniqueness of true marriage:
“Only a marriage between a man and a woman can offer a child both a mother and a father. The gender-neutral marriage law would effectively nullify motherhood and fatherhood from the law,” Rahkonen said.
Aito Avioliitto has underlined in its campaign the children’s natural right to their own mother and father using such slogans as “Two fathers cannot replace a mother” and “Two mothers cannot replace a father.” There have been a lot of verbal assaults against campaign activists, particularly in Helsinki, and at least one attempt at physical harm where an unknown substance was thrown into a campaign booth.
“It is startling to realize how controversial the traditional understanding of marriage has quickly become, with so many people forgetting the basic rules of civility when meeting our volunteers collecting signatures. We become ‘disgusting people’ simply for holding the view that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” says Pasi Turunen who together with Rahkonen launched the Citizen’s Initiative six months ago.
The Aito Avioliitto campaign has collected 106,670 signatures to date.
The Aito Avioliito Association press secretary Pasi Turunen states that: “This is a remarkable feat in light of the fact that we have not received hardly any media attention and even that was mostly negative. Only after we reached the legally required 50,000 signatures did the media report on our initiative. Our volunteers across Finland have done an absolutely fantastic job.”
“Now we expect that our Citizen’s Initiative, as required by law, will be considered by the parliament with equal seriousness as any other Citizen’s Initiative,” says Jukka Rahkonen. “Whatever happens, though, the Aito Avioliitto Association is here to stay and we will keep promoting true marriage as the union of one man and one woman in Finnish society and in the legislature as well as to continue working for children’s right to have both a mother and a father.”
Against the well-reasoned recommendation of its own Legal Affairs Committee, the Finnish parliament voted and passed (105–92), the gender-neutral “marriage” bill at the end of November 2014. This came as a result of a Citizen’s Initiative promoting “marriage equality” aided by massive media-hype that quickly collected over 160,000 signatures. Same-sex “marriage” bills proposed by individual Members of Parliament had been rejected several times before in parliament (in 2006, 2009, and 2012). President Sauli Niinistö then signed the gender-neutral “marriage” law on February 20, 2015, legalizing same-sex “marriage”, but the law does not go into effect until March 2017.
The Aito Avioliitto Association was founded in January 2015 when a group of concerned citizens who, until November 2014, had only shared information and thoughts regarding same-sex “marriage” in a Facebook group, felt the need to organize and do more in order to promote traditional marriage for the long run, as well as see what could be done to repeal the same-sex “marriage” bill before it goes into effect in March 2017.
Aito Avioliitto is an official partner with the French organization La Manif Pour Tous and has permission to use the same logo.
Citizen’s Initiative is a new form of citizen’s participation in Finland’s government, having only entered into effect since March 1, 2012. It offers citizens a possibility to have their initiative considered by Parliament. A Citizen’s Initiative may either include a bill or a proposal to start drafting a bill. An initiative may also address, or propose an amendment or repeal of legislation.
Once the initiative has collected the minimum 50,000 valid signatures within six months, it must be taken into consideration by Parliament.