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Church Weddings for Gays Soon a Reality in Sweden

ament have indicated that they are in favour of gay weddings. They are now pressuring the centre-right government to push through the new legislation.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, of the conservative Moderate Party, is in favour of a new law though some members of his party are against it.

The Christian Democrats, a junior member of the coalition, is the only party firmly opposed.

Sweden has since 1995 allowed gays and lesbians the right to civil unions, granting them the same legal status as married couples.

But gay and lesbian associations have long been pushing for the last distinction between heterosexual marriages and homosexual unions to be eliminated.

The issue took a leap forward on March 21 when an independent committee, tasked with studying the issue by the former Social Democratic government, recommended the adoption of a new gender neutral marriage law.

The Lutheran Church, which has 7.2 million members out of a population of 9.1 million, said in an initial reaction that it preferred the term 'marriage' be reserved for heterosexual unions.

It also said it wanted pastors to be free to choose whether or not to perform a gay marriage ceremony.

However, the Church has yet to take a definitive stand on the issue.

'The official state report is right now under consideration. There will be an answer from the Church during the late autumn,' Church spokeswoman Annika Sjoeqvist Platzer told AFP.

In the meantime, pastors say they have not been flooded with requests from gays for religious blessings of their civil unions, since most gay couples prefer to wait and see if a new marriage law will enter into force in January.


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