Humanists in Norway are claiming to have conducted their first legal same-sex marriage ceremony.

Cecilia Patricia Stensland, 24, and Janne Lemvig Abrahamsen, 38, wed in Oslo last week.

New legislation on same-sex marriage which came into force in January amended the definition of civil marriage in Norway to make it gender neutral and extended parenting rights for gay and lesbian couples.

It replaced a 1993 law that gave same-sex couples the right to enter into civil unions.

Couples with a pre-registered civil partnership can convert it into marriage.

The Church of Norway is allowed, but not compelled, to bless same-sex marriages.

Human-Etisk Forbund, the Norwegian Humanist Association, played host to their first legal same-sex marriage ceremony, conducted by Rolf Solheim.

“Our authorised celebrants have conducted partnership/civil union ceremonies since 2007,” he said.

“However, this year Norway introduced a marriage law which gives gays and lesbians the right to use the term ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’.

“There is now full parity in Norway between heterosexual and gay/lesbian couples, including the right to have insemination at state hospitals for lesbian married couples.

“The humanist marriage ceremony is strictly secular and identical for every couple irrespective of sexual orientation.

“The Norwegian churches are also allowed to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, but have so far refused.”

George Broadhead, secretary of the gay humanist group Pink Triangle Trust, said:

“The PTT, which was set up in 1992, introduced the first Humanist “affirmation ceremony” of love and commitment for gay and lesbian couples in the UK as the secular alternative to the gay Christian “blessing”, and arranged hundreds of these all over the country prior to the introduction of Civil Partnership legislation.”