Estonia has taken a big step towards marriage equality.
Earlier this week, the Baltic state strengthened the rights of two same-sex couples, giving others the hope that equality may not be far off.
Last week, a court in the capital Tallinn decided in its second instance to recognize the marriage of two men.
It is the first time a marriage between two men has been legally recognized in Estonia.
The couple wed in Sweden, but now reside in Estonia.
In first instance, the authorities in the district of Harju, which includes Tallinn, refused to enter the men’s marriage into the civil register.
But in December, the District Court ruled in their favor.
The judges said there was ‘nothing in the way’ of registering the two men as married; the authorities did not appeal the ruling.
On Tuesday, the men were finally officially registered as a married couple.
They are the first male same-sex couple to be legally married in Estonia.
For experts and activists, the ruling could be a precedent, and it might just lead the way to marriage equality.
In 2016, Estonia became the first ex-Soviet Union country to have legalized civil partnerships.
But the legal situation for same-sex couples has been described as confusing and chaotic.
They can enter a civil partnership, which is called a cohabitation agreement.
Implemented on 1 January 2016, it was supposed to give same-sex couples nearly the same rights as straight couples, including adoption rights.
But in reality the conservative Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, who forms part of Estonia’s coalition government, is blocking further legislation to actually increase same-sex couples’ rights.
Right now, same-sex couples are still limited to fostering or step-adoption.