Moderate board comes out for gay marriage

The Moderate Party, the largest party in Sweden's coalition government, has thrown its support behind same-sex marriage.

The party’s board voted in favour of a gender-neutral marriage law on Friday. The party also wants to retain religious groups’ rights to carry out legally binding marriage ceremonies. Individual priests will be allowed to choose whether to marry same-sex couples.

The board’s decision will be put to the party’s conference in October. If approved, the only party in parliament not to support same sex marriage will be the Christian Democrats. The text of the motion on which the conference will be asked to vote reads:

“The time is ripe for a gender-neutral marriage law, with equal rights and responsibilities for all, regardless of whether people choose to share their lives with someone of the same sex or someone of the opposite sex. The same development has been seen in many of Europe’s countries in recent years.”

“Today’s arrangements in which priests in the Church of Sweden and certain other faith groups have the right to officiate at marriages should remain in place. In line with the demands of freedom of religion it must be left to the faith groups themselves to decide which marriages are in line with their own faith.”

One member of the party board, member of parliament Hans Wallmark from Skåne, dissented from the board’s decision. He said he would like to see a law which gave similar rights to gay and straight couples, but in which a distinction was made between partnership for gay couples and marriage for heterosexuals.

“Partnership for same-sex couples and marriage for opposite-sex couples, but with the same rights and obligations for both,” he said.