Sweden to consider gay marriage law

April 30, 2004

STOCKHOLM — The Swedish parliament voted Thursday in favour of creating a committee to study whether the country should replace its current law on same-sex civil union with one that allows gay marriages.

Sweden's current law gives gay couples the same rights as married couples, but they are not allowed to marry in church. While the public commonly refers to gay unions as "marriages", they are in the eyes of the law officially called "partnerships".

The government-appointed committee will examine whether Sweden ought to change the 1987 marriage law to make it "gender neutral", eliminating the last distinction between the two kinds of unions after gays were in February 2003 granted the right to adopt children.

Sweden's gay community has long fought for the right to call their civil unions "real" marriages.

"Just over 15 years ago the parliament voted 'no' to homosexual marriages. Public opinion may have changed since then. It is time to once again consider the question," the parliament's laws committee said in its April 13 recommendation to deputies.

The only party which voted against the motion was the small Christian Democratic party, which holds 33 of 349 seats, while the conservative Moderates, which hold 55 seats, abstained.

According to a poll published in early March, 61 percent of Swedes are in favour of gay marriage, while 30 percent are opposed to the idea. – AFP

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