A bill that would legalise civil unions for both same and opposite sex couples comes to the floor of the Estonian parliament today for second reading.

Last few days have seen highly emotional and often nasty arguments around whether or not the law should be passed.

Conservative groups led by an association “for the protection of traditional families” mounted a noticeable protest on Sunday in front of the parliament building, fiercely opposing the civil partnership bill.

However this campaign has been countered by numerous opinion leaders, actors, sports figures, political and human rights activist on the other side, arguing in favour of tolerance and acceptance.

The debate in the 101 member chamber of the parliament will begin shortly after 10 AM, when the MPs convene.

Civil Partnership bill was introduced in spring by 40 MPs, representing three parties out of four in parliament. It is supported by the leaders of the ruling coalition i.e. Reform party and Social Democrats, who have an absolute majority in the legislature.

However government has not imposed a whip on this bill and it is a free vote, with some government MPs likely to press red buttons as well. Some MPs from the opposition Centre Party have declared their support for the bill. But the conservative IRL party, the second opposition party, has been notably against the bill.

If the bill passes today’s second reading it might go up for final vote already on Thursday.