Danish opposition proposes legalizing gay church weddings

March 31, 2004

Anders Fogh Rasmussen
COPENHAGEN — Denmark's opposition Socialist People's Party presented a bill to parliament on Tuesday that would open the way for allowing homosexuals to marry in church, parliamentarian sources said.

"The current law bars all religious communities from wedding homosexual couples. Our proposal aims to change this legislation and to stop the political interference in religious matters by giving all churches the freedom to make their own decision on whether or not to wed homosexuals," author of the proposal Kamal Qreishi told AFP.

The bill will be debated in parliament over coming months, he said.

Denmark was the first country in the world to allow homosexuals to "marry" at city hall in October 1989 when it legalized so-called "registered partnerships".

Since then, however, gays in Denmark have fought for the right to get married in church.

The head of Denmark's Liberal-Conservative government Anders Fogh Rasmussen provoked an uproar in January when he said he was in favor of equal rights to religious marriage for homosexuals and heterosexuals.

"I find it hard to believe that God would be harder on homosexuals and lesbians than on other people," he wrote in a magazine column.

"(But) politicians should not interfere in the internal life of the church and should leave ritual in the hands of pastors and parish councillors," he said, emphasizing that he was expressing his personal view point on the matter.

He admitted however that it could be "difficult to distinguish between the private person and the prime minister, because they are in the end one and the same."

Denmark's Religion Minister Tove Fergo has previously stated that it is up to the Evangelical-Lutheran state church to petition the government and parliament for law changes if it in fact wants to alter the legislation surrounding marriage rituals. – AFP

Related stories
Danish PM favours religious weddings for gays, but says church must decide [13/01/2004]



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