All Rights reserved
Since Sweden's Ministry of Justice announced last week that beginning in the spring, local registrars will not be able to refuse to join gay couples under the country's civil unions law, some officials have protested, arguing that registrars will resign. Under current law, registrars can decide for themselves--and in Stockholm, for example, one fifth of the registrars refuse to join gay couples.
The change is part of an issue that has been debated since the Scandinavian country legalized civil unions for gay couples in 1994. The announcement came as Sweden's Lutheran Church established a special blessing ceremony for same-sex partnerships that is apart from traditional weddings. The Swedish Church Assembly, the decision-making body for the Church of Sweden, voted 160-81 to approve the ceremony.
Sweden has a liberal attitude toward gay rights, but same-sex marriage is not yet legal. Later this year a government-appointed committee is expected to file a report on whether the law allowing civil unions between gay couples should be changed to include marriage as well. More than 7 million of Sweden's 9 million inhabitants belong to the Church of Sweden, but few attend church regularly. (Advocate.com)