Six of the seven parties in Swedish parliament have backed a proposal to introduce a gender-neutral marriage law.
The proposal passed today with a 261 to 22 vote and 16 abstentions.
The only party to oppose the ruling were the Christian Democrats, stating that the party wanted to maintain “a several hundred-year-old concept” of marriage.
It is not yet certain that the changes will affect church marriage ceremonies, but in February, a majority of Church of Sweden bishops said the church should no longer handle legal marriage registrations, DPA reported.
The new legislation comes into effect as of May 1st, replacing the current legislation established in 1995 approving registered partnership much like civil partnerships in the UK.
Couples with a ‘registered partnership’ can either retain this status or apply to the relevant authorities to have it amended.
The president of the Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights, Soren Juvas, called the ruling “a great victory” and Evon Frid of the Left Party said it was “a positive change”.
A poll for the Sifo Institute published in January 2008 found that 71 per cent of Swedes think gay people should be allowed to marry.
In January 2007 the Church of Sweden, which was disestablished in 2000, began offering religious blessings to gay unions and actively welcomed LGBT clergy.
A Lutheran denomination, it claims more than 7 million members out of a population of 9 million
Last year the Church agreed that marriage and partnership were equivalent forms of unions.
It recommended however that the term “marriage” be referred only to heterosexual couples.