Church of Sweden open to homosexual weddings

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Map showing the status of homosexuality laws of the world.

The Lutheran Church of Sweden will perform gay wedding ceremonies if the government legalizes same-sex marriage, according to Claes-Bertil Ytterberg, Bishop for the Swedish Church Assembly that is the decision-making body for the Church of Sweden.

Sweden recognized same-sex civil unions in 1995, but full marriage between persons of the same sex has remained illegal. Recently government-appointed committee has concluded civil-unions law outdated and recommended that the parliament would allow legal same-sex marriages.

The church is going to support legalizing for same sex marriage and open its doors for gay and lesbian ceremonies. The church leaves it up to the individual priest whether to perform such a ceremony or not, according to the bishop.

Even though homosexual couples would be wed in the same way as straight couples, the church would like the ceremony to be called something else because "the word wedding is so traditional and is reserved for men and women."

The Church of Sweden already performs blessings for same-sex couples, as in 2005 when special church ceremonies to mark homosexual civil unions were allowed. There are still some rifts on the issue within the Church of Sweden, however they have become less visible, the bishop says.

According to the statistics 7 million of Sweden's citizens belong to the Lutheran Church of Sweden, however fewer than 4% are reported to attend Sunday services.