Danish gays can marry in church

Gay couples in Denmark will now be able to enjoy exactly the same marriage rights as straight couples after parliament passed a historic vote in favour of the law change. After a debate that ran three hours over schedule, 85 members of the Danish Folketing voted in favour of the law that will see homosexuals entitled to a full ecclesiastical marriage service and rights under the national Evangelical-Lutheran Church.

Due to internal differences, both the Conservative and Liberal party whips were removed from parliament before the vote on Thursday (June 7), leaving just 24 members voting against and two abstentions. The right-wing Danish People’s Party was the only party to vote against the bill as a whole.

Previously, homosexual couples have only been able to enter into registered partnerships in Denmark, meaning they cannot enjoy the same rights as heterosexual married couples and cannot have a wedding in church. It will still, however, be up the individual bishops whether or not they decide to perform the rite for gay couples.

Manu Sareen, Denmark’s minister for ecclesiastical affairs, has spent much of his time in parliament developing and pushing through the proposals. He said the law change is historic, adding, “This is along the lines of when we got women priests. I am really happy. It is something all three government parties have wanted for many years.”