FINLAND has become the latest country — and the 12th European nation — to allow same-sex marriage to proceed and to be recognised.

The news comes after the Finnish Parliament overnight narrowly approved a citizen’s initiative to legalise same-sex marriage.

In the vote, Finland was the only Scandinavian nation that did not allow same-sex marriage, although couples have been able to enter into registered partnerships since 2002.

The passage of same-sex marriage will also give Finnish same-sex couples equal rights to adopt children and share a surname.

“Finland should strive to become a society where discrimination does not exist, human rights are respected and two adults can marry regardless of their sexual orientation,” Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said in an open letter that was published before the vote took place.

Australian Marriage Equality congratulated Finland, but stated this highlighted how far Australia is falling behind.

“The fact that Finland achieved marriage equality under a centre right government, just like the UK and New Zealand, gives us hope marriage equality can also be achieved under the current Australian government,” AME national director Rodney Croome said.

Earlier this week, NSW Liberal-Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm introduced a Freedom to Marry Bill to Federal Parliament.

Coalition MPs do not yet have a conscience vote on the issue, although Prime Minister Tony Abbott has previously said his party’s position on marriage equality was a question for the party room.

However, a bill was needed to be before the Parliament to prompt them to decide on this.

The Labor party already has a conscience vote on the matter, while the Greens have stated they were the “strongest supporters” of it.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek also has her own marriage equality bill ready to go, but she has said she was waiting for the Coalition to be granted the conscience vote before she introduced it in Parliament.

Finland becomes the 20th nation to allow same-sex couples to marry. Marriage equality also prevails in 35 US states, plus District of Columbia.

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