Danish PM to receive 'Salmon' prize at gay pride

August 13, 2004

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen
COPENHAGEN — Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen will receive the "Salmon of the year" award at the Gay Pride parade here this weekend for having "swum against the stream", the National Association of Gays and Lesbians said on Thursday.

"This prize will reward him for the courageous personal position he has taken as a political leader in favor of gay marriage in church," association spokesman Jesper Kiby Denborg told AFP.

"This is the first time in Denmark's history that a prime minister clearly and publicly supports gays, even though some have supported us in private," he added.

Fogh Rasmussen has accepted his nomination and is planning to attend the ceremony at City Hall in Copenhagen following the parade on Saturday, his spokesperson told AFP.

The Danish prime minister provoked an uproar last 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 viewpoint on the matter.

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.

In 1997, Denmark's 11 bishops did decide to allow homosexual couples to receive a church blessing, but have continued to refuse them ceremonies including the ritual phrase: "Will you have this man (woman) as your lawful wedded husband (wife)", and the right to have their names listed in the parish registry.

About 85 percent of the Danish population belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. – Sapa-AFP

Related stories
Danish opposition proposes legalizing gay church weddings [31/03/04]



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