The Lutheran church of Norway has lifted an outright ban on clergy in same-sex relationships.

However, it will allow each bishop to decide whether or not to employ them.

The decision comes after a week of debate at the churches annual meeting, with the 86 member governing synod voting 50 to 34 to change the rules.

Marit Tingelstad, head of the Bishop’s Council for Norway’s Hamar distric said on state radio network NRK: “This will create peace in the church, and securing for homosexual clergy.”

However not all church members are pleased with the decision.

Bishop Ole D. Hagesaeter, of the Bjoergvin district, said, “This is a sad day for the church. It will be a splitting factor and lead to many feeling homeless in the church.”

Under Norwegian law, gay couples have rights comparable to those of married heterosexuals, apart from church weddings and adoption.

The church counts nearly 85 percent of Norway’s 4.7 million people as members.