Current Affairs

Church weddings for Swedish gays a step closer

Joe Roberts June 29, 2007
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Sweden may become the first country to allow gays and lesbians to marry within a major Church.

Under current laws, dating back to 1987, marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman.

A new piece of proposed “gender-neutral” legislation however, may soon remove this distinction allowing anybody to marry in the Lutherian Church.

Currently gay and lesbian couple can only register their partnership through a civil ceremony, a process introduced in 1995 which gives same-sex couples the same rights as married couples.

Sweden was also the first country to pioneer gay adoption.

“I think it would be great if the Swedish law passed,” says Soeren Andersson of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights told AFP.

“In changing the law everybody could be equal.”

In marks a long battle from campaigners to remove the remaining distinction between heterosexual and homosexual partnership.

In January the Lutherian Church, which separated from the state in 2000, began offering religious blessings to gay unions and actively welcomed LGBT clergy.

“It’s a kind of a revolution,” says Anderssom of the potential change in law.

“Because when you look at the big Swedish Church, if you would have asked it five years ago it would probably have said ‘no we would not accept this’.”

While the Church’s initial reaction to be bill has been to declare it would prefer “marriage” to be a term reserved from heterosexual union, some pastors have spoken out in support.

“If God has created people as homosexuals, we must accept them and we must bless them,” says Arne Wikstroem, Pastor of the Oscars parish in central Stockholm said.

“I think all people are equal before God. I see no reason not to celebrate gay marriages.”

Six of the seven parties represented in parliament are in support of gay weddings with only the Christian Democrats, a junior member of the coalition, opposing it.

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