The Parliament of Finland on Wednesday began debating a bill which would legalize gay marriage in the Nordic country, EFE reported.

Since 2002, Finland has recognized gay and lesbian couples with registered partnerships.

The legislation would allow gay couples to enter a civil marriage, take the surname of the other spouse and adopt a partner's children without biological links.

Seventy-six of the 200 members of parliament have so far signed on to the proposed law.

Two parties, the ultra-nationalist True Finns and the Christian Democrats, which is led by Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen, have rejected the plan outright.

Political groups may propose amendments to the bill after it returns from processing in the Legal Affairs Committee.

According to an August 2010 poll, a majority of Finns (54%) support marriage equality, while 35 percent are opposed.

The Christian newspaper Kotimaa in 2010 reported that a narrow majority (54%) of Finnish MPs are opposed to the legalization of gay marriage.

If approved, Finland would become the 11th country to approve such unions, behind Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Holland, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, South Africa and Sweden.

England and Denmark are also debating the issue.