The largest party in the Swedish coalition government has committed to new legislation to allow gay couples to marry.

Fredrik Reinfeldt’s conservative Moderate party’s board has voted to support further rights for gay people, after eight MPs, including one Cabinet minister, threatened to resign over the issue.

Swedish gay and lesbian couples have had the right to civil partnerships since 1995, but many liberal politicians and LGB activists feel that they are out of date.

A parliamentary committee last year agreed, and recommended that gay couples be given full marriage rights, including the right to get married in the national Church of Sweden.

Until 2000 the Church was established, meaning was is the official state religion. It now has autonomy from the government.

In 2006 the church approved blessings of same-sex partnerships and actively welcomed LGBT clergy.

A tenth of the priests in the Church of Sweden signed a petition opposing gay and lesbian church weddings.

Last year’s parliamentary committee report suggested that individual priests would decide whether or not to perform gay weddings.

That has been clarified in the ruling party’s proposal, will be ratified by the party’s conference in October.

“Today’s arrangements in which priests in the Church of Sweden and certain other faith groups have the right to officiate at marriages should remain in place.

“In line with the demands of freedom of religion it must be left to the faith groups themselves to decide which marriages are in line with their own faith.”

Mr Reinfeldt’s coalition partners strongly support gay marriage.

The Christian Democrat party will oppose any new legislation.

Opinion polls show that 46% of Swedes are in favour of gay marriage, with 31% opposed.