Swedish government falls out over gay marriage
The Swedish Prime Minister is facing a revolt from his own party because he will not commit to new legislation to allow gay couples to marry.
The country’s coalition government is split on the issue.
Fredrik Reinfeldt’s conservative Moderate party have so far not decided to support further rights for gay people, but eight MPs, including one Cabinet minister, are threatening 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have had the right to civil partnerships since 1995, but many liberal politicians and LGB activists feel that they are out of date.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 last year signed a petition opposing gay and lesbian church weddings.
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Last year’s parliamentary committee report suggested that individual priests would decide whether or not to perform gay weddings
Mr Reinfeldt’s government have not introduced a new bill to legalise gay marriage, despite the strong support of two other parties in the coalition.
The Christian Democrat party will oppose any new legislation to extend marriage to gay couples.
Opinion polls show that 46% of Swedes are in favour of gay marriage, with 31% opposed.
The Prime Minister has said that his party will make a decision on the issue at their autumn party conference.
The subtle distinction between marriage and partnership has become a point of disagreement in many countries.