• Sweden edition

Government rules out gay marriage compromise

Published: 25 Oct 2008 13:24 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Oct 2008 13:24 GMT+02:00

The reason for the decision is reported by news agency TT to be the threat of revolt by government MPs.

More than four MPs, which is what is needed for the opposition to win a vote, had declared their intention to break ranks and vote with the opposition if the government does not present a legislative proposal in line with a government inquiry report.

The inquiry's proposal is to establish the right to marriage for same-sex couples on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples. Currently Sweden permits the registration of civil partnerships.

The proposal includes a clause that allows individual churches and clergy to refuse to conduct marriage services involving homosexual couples.

One of the MPs threatening to vote with the opposition is the Moderate party's Tomas Tobé.

"I have stated that I expect a government bill in December and that it is in line with the inquiry. I consider the compromise to have already been made in the proposal and I hope that the Christian Democrats accept it," Tobé said to TT.

"I respect that the Christian Democrats have another view and want to vote against the bill in parliament, but then they also have to respect that we vote according to our convictions," he said.

According to Sveriges Radio's Ekot news program the justice ministry has in principle completed its proposal for the framing of a new marriage law which is gender-neutral and but gives individual priests the right to refuse to marry homosexual couples.

But according to Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund, negotiations among the four party alliance to reach a compromise agreement over the issue are not exhausted.

"No, there is more to discuss among the parties. It is well known that three of the parties want to push through the legislation according to the proposal presented by the inquiry, but we Christian Democrats want to explore the possibility of finding a solution which all four parties can agree upon," Hägglund said to TT.

"It is my contention that we should strive to find a compromise in this issue in the same way as we address all the other issues over which we are in agreement."

The Liberal party leadership considered the issue on Friday but left no room for a compromise in the issue.

"We can not support any of the compromises that have been presented, we want to have a gender-neutral marriage law consistent with the inquiry's proposal," said Erik Ullenhag to TT.

Hägglund was unwilling to reveal how his party intends to act if the four-party Alliance government are unable to reach agreement.

"I have been around for a long time...I have learned that it is wise to take it one step at a time."

When asked by TT if it was a cabinet issue for the Christian Democrats, Hägglund replied:

"I think that it is very bad form if the parties start to talk in ultimatums. We know each other's points of view and we respect each other, and I believe that we can solve this issue as well," said Göran Hägglund.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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