Parliament votes to legalise gay marriage

Sweden's parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to allow homosexuals to legally marry. Under the current law, gay couples can register unions and adopt. The law takes effect from May this year.


REUTERS - Sweden will allow homosexuals to legally marry
from May this year after parliament on Wednesday voted
overwhelmingly in favour of the move.


The change in the law, which currently allows gay couples to
register unions but not formal marriage, comes into force on May
1 this year under the timetable set out in the bill.


Scandinavian countries, known for their liberal attitudes
towards gays and lesbians, were among the first countries in
Europe to grant same-sex partners the same rights as married


Sweden gave same-sex couples the right to form a union via
registered partnerships in the mid-nineties and made it legal
for them to adopt in 2002.


The passage of the bill was widely expected and the final
tally was 261 votes in favour of the bill and 22 opposed.


"The decision means that gender no longer has an impact on
the ability to marry and that the law on registered partnership
is repealed," the government said on its website.


The Christian Democrats, part of the four-party coalition
government, refused to back the bill.


The new legislation eliminates legal distinctions between
heterosexual and homosexual spouses, but does not force
dissenting clergy to wed gay couples.


The Swedish Lutheran church, which split from the state in
2000, has said it was open to celebrating and registering
same-sex unions, although it wanted to reserve the term
matrimony for heterosexual marriages.

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