The President of Finland has signed a law legalising gender-neutral marriage – but couples will face a long wait before they are allowed to marry.

In November, the Finnish Parliament passed a citizens’ initiative on gender-neutral marriage by a tight vote of 105-92, after a number of previous defeats.

The country’s President Sauli Niinistö has today signed into law the initiative – which came about as a result of a public petition signed by over 167,000 voters. It is the first time that an initiative has actually become law in the country.

However, due to the legal changes required, the new law will not come into force until March 1, 2017 – leaving same-sex couples who wish to marry unable to do so for two years.

The waiting period is necessary for the country’s Justice Ministry to make revisions to a raft of other legislation, to bring it into line with gender neutral marriage. Legislation on a number of issues, from health to welfare and social care will require revision. revision.

The secondary legislation will be submitted to Parliament beginning in Autumn.

Couples in Finland have been able to enter into registered partnerships in Finland since 2002. Finland is currently the only Nordic country to not allow same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Kari Mäkinen, the head of Finland’s largest church, caused controversy in November when he appeared to welcome the vote on same-sex marriage.