A petition against legal recognition for same-sex cohabiting couples in Estonia has gained 35,000 signatures, surprising even its organisers.

Varro Vooglaid, head of the Foundation for the Protection of Family and Tradition, which started the petition in March, said the figure was more than three times what they had originally hoped for.

The Foundation say they aimed for 10,000 signatures to be handed in to Parliament on 14 May.

LGBT activists lodged a complaint against the petition in April, arguing it was an incitement to social hatred.

Police decided against starting criminal proceedings, finding nothing compromising in the petition.

Mr Vooglaid said of the incident: “Freedom of thought and freedom of expression are fundamental values in a democratic society​​, and it’s regrettable that homosexual activists, who claim to be standing for human rights, does not understand that.”

Estonia is one of few EU member states which lacks legislation allowing civil partnerships. It, along with Bulgaria, Italy, Malta, Romania, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Greece, do not recognise registered civil partnerships from other states.

Earlier this year deputies in Warsaw rejected three bills which could have begun the process of allowing civil partnerships for gay couples in Poland.