A rainbow-coloured balloon at the Senate Square in Helsinki in June 2019. Members of the Centre and National Coalition on Monday said Helsinki Pride has rejected their partnership applications, apparently over their handling of the trans act reform that passed the Parliament in 2023. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)


HELSINKI PRIDE has rejected the partnership applications of the Centre and National Coalition Party, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Annu Kemppainen, the executive director of Helsinki Pride, confirmed to Helsingin Sanomat on Monday that the National Coalition has not been accepted as a partner of the event celebrating gender and sexual minorities because several of its members voted against the bill to reform the trans act earlier this year.

He declined to comment on the other partner selections, citing the fact that they have yet been published. “The National Coalition has brought up the issue, so I’m only able to comment on this as far as the party is concerned,” he explained to the newspaper.

Members of the Parliament voted 113 for and 69 against the bill on 1 February.

Both the Centre and National Coalition defined the vote as an issue of confidence and allowed their members to vote freely, despite the former being part of the ruling coalition that had drafted the bill. The two parties ultimately accounted for one-third of the 69 nay votes, 13 of which came from the Centre and 10 from the National Coalition.

The National Coalition, on the other hand, was the only opposition party to cast votes in support of the bill, with 26 of its 37 members doing so and making sure the bill passed.

“Helsinki Pride Community’s board had a long and somewhat difficult discussion about the issue,” said Kemppainen. “The board concluded that the trans act has been so critical for our community that, due to their voting behaviour, certain parties were not accepted as partners of the Helsinki Pride event.”

The community, he added, was hoping for unanimous support for the bill from the National Coalition.

“Human rights are not questions of conscience. The National Coalition has lawmakers who do great work for the rights of rainbow people. We were disappointed that the party didn’t make a collective decision on the issue,” told Kemppainen.

Official partners are able to organise activities in conjunction with the event and receive visibility in public communications and the event. The National Coalition has been one of the partners for several years.

The decision drew some pointed criticism from the party members.

Daniel Sazonov (NCP), a Deputy Mayor of Helsinki, described the decision as confusing and saddening on Twitter, arguing that it sends a questionable message about the requirements for supporting the event and its objectives.

Katri Manninen, a special aide with the National Coalition, announced she will not be participating in the march this year.

“I’m not going to sugar-coat this: I think it’s hurtful and offensive to me and members of the National Coalition who have worked for human rights and equality. I feel like we’re not qualified to speak up for equality,” she tweeted.

Ville-Veikko Rantamaula, the chairperson of the Centre’s district organisation in Helsinki, confirmed to Helsingin Sanomat that also the Centre has been excluded from Helsinki Pride 2023. The decision to suspend co-operation came as a major shock to the party, which was intent on participating also this year.

“It looks like a select group is allowed to participate in an event that speaks for equality and non-discrimination,” he said.

Rantamaula viewed that the decision, assuming it was an attempt to chastise parties for their handling of the trans act reform, was a step too far.

“This goes against all the values and activities that encouraged us to participate in the event, but going forward we won’t be participating even if the decision was overturned. That’s how it is,” he declared.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT