A same-sex marriage bill has been rejected by a Finnish parliamentary committee, despite public support.

Finland is the only Nordic country to not allow same-sex marriage, only permitting couples to enter into registered partnerships.

The pro-gay ‘Tahdon 2013′ group had last year launched a Citizens’ Initiative to force parliament into discussing same-sex marriage, gathering more than 166,000 signatures in favour.

However, when the initiative finally reached the Finnish Parliaments’s Legal Affairs Committee today, they voted by 10 votes to 6 against to reject it, pushing it to the full legislature.

Anne Holmlund, the chair of the committee, said: “It just wasn’t ready. All the experts we asked said that the specific legislation proposed in the initiative is technically non-viable.”

SDP MP Mikael Jungner, who missed the vote alongside colleague Suna Kymäläinen, apologised for being “late”, but said his vote would not have ultimately made a difference.

However, campaigners are holding out hope that equal marriage may be backed by the Grand Committee in the Autumn, in spite of today’s vote.

Green League MP Oras Tynkkynen told YLE: “The bill may well go through in the autumn or based on the next government negotiations.

“The Western world is gradually coming to accept a gender-neutral legislative stance on marriage, and it feels unlikely that Finland would be the last to come around.”

Senni Moilanen, president of Tahdon 2013, said: “We’re all very disappointed, we were expecting that the committee would vote yes, but we knew that it would be tight.

“But now we will look forward to the fall. We’re ready to discuss this more with MPs, and ready to tell them more about what our initiative is about, and why they should finally vote yes.”

Krista Siegfrids, who represented Finland at Eurovision last year with a pro-equal marriage protest song, Marry Me, tweeted her disgust at the ruling.

She tweeted: “Some of our politicians… Can’t believe them. Small-minded, intolerant… I’m ashamed on their behalf! #tahdon #lovewillsurvive”.

Last year, a similar bill was rejected by the same committee by 9 votes to 8.