In protest against the Church of Norway’s refusal to perform same-sex marriages, mayors have vowed to open up city halls to allow priests to perform blessings for gay couples’ marriages.

Proposals to introduce a marriage liturgy for gay couples were voted down at the start of the Church’s national synod on Tuesday morning, with 64 of 115 votes against and 51 in favour. 

Oslo City Council opened up the Munch room in City Hall, to allow priests to perform blessing services for same-sex married couples, in a bipartisan effort by the city’s Conservative Party mayor Fabian Stang and Labour Party deputy mayor Libe Rieber-Mohn.

“We have decided to open the hall for priests who want to bless gays,” Rieber-Mohn said in an interview with VG newspaper. “We think it’s sad that the church does not want to open its doors for weddings of people who love each other.”

Jazz musician and priest Carl Petter Opsahl, has already taken up the offer.

He said: “I would like to set up in the town hall, definitely. This gives a helping hand to Oslo priests and gay couples who want to marry in a Christian ritual.”

Mayors across Norway in Tromso, Bodo and Sandnes, have also agreed to do the same.

Norway legalised same-sex marriage in 2008.

Last Friday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England, defended his Church’s decision to block clergy from marrying gay couples in England and Wales by saying Anglicans in Africa could be attacked or killed as a result.