The Swedish parliament has been presented legislation that will allow gays to marry in civil ceremonies or in the Lutheran Church, which until 2000 was the official church of Sweden.
“The main proposal in the motion is that … a person’s gender will no longer have any bearing on whether they can marry. The marriage law and other laws concerning spouses will be rendered gender neutral according to the proposal,” a statement from Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s conservative Moderates said.
The proposal has wide backing in parliament and is expected to be adopted, though a date has yet to be set for a vote. While heterosexuals in Sweden can choose to marry in either a civil ceremony or a church ceremony, homosexuals are currently only allowed to register their “partnerships” in a civil ceremony. Civil unions granting gays and lesbians the same legal status as married couples have been allowed in Sweden since 1995. If the new legislation is adopted, Sweden, already a pioneer in giving same-sex couples the right to adopt children, would become the first country in the world to allow gays to marry within a major Church.
Under the proposal, Lutheran pastors will be able to opt-out of performing gay marriages if they have personal objections.