May Day nuptials for same-sex couples

Alf Karlsson and Johan Lundqvist tied the knot at the Stockholm City Hall on May 1, the first day same-sex couples were permitted marry according to Sweden's new gender-neutral marriage law.

May Day nuptials for same-sex couples

“It went really well! This is fantastic, fantastic weather!” Karlsson exclaimed immediately following the ceremony.

Although homosexual couples in Sweden have been allowed to enter into legal partnerships since 1995, Friday marked the first day gay and lesbian couples were granted the same legal status as their heterosexual counterparts. The new gender-neutral marriage law allows homosexual couples to enter into marriage “for real.”

For Karlsson, Lundqvist and many others, it means much more than that.

“It means that our love is worth the same as everybody else’s. And it doesn’t matter if it is a man and a man, or a man and a woman, or a woman and a woman, but all love is equally valuable,” Karlsson told TT.

When asked if it was important to be married on the first day the law went into effect, Karlsson answered in the affirmative. “We are both politicians and thought that this was our opportunity to make a statement,” he said.

Karlsson and Lundqvist are both members of the Green party, so party leader Maria Wetterstrand officiated at the ceremony and fellow party member Ywonne Ruwaida was one of the witnesses.

“I was there when we signed the joint Social Democratic-Left-Green motion for a gender-neutral marriage law in the parliament and so it was only natural to ask Maria to officiate.”

TT: What now?

“Now we are going to celebrate with our nearest and dearest!” Karlsson said.

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Gay suicide rate falls in Denmark and Sweden after legalization of same-sex marriage

The number of suicides among homosexual women and men has dropped by nearly half in Sweden and Denmark since the countries legalised gay marriage, a new study has shown.

Gay suicide rate falls in Denmark and Sweden after legalization of same-sex marriage
Sweden legallised gay marriuage in 2009 and Denmark 2012. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB/TT
The study, a collaboration between researchers at the Danish Institute for Suicide Prevention and Stockholm University, found that the number of suicides in the group had fallen by 46 percent between 1989-2002 and 2003-2016. 
“Being married is a protection against suicide,” Annette Erlangsen, who led the study at the Institute for Suicide Prevention, told Reuters. 
“Legalizing same-sex marriage and other supportive legislative measures – they might actually reduce stigma around sexual minorities.” 
The dramatic drop in suicide among gay people compared to a drop of 28 percent among heterosexual couples. 
The rate of suicide was nonetheless twice as high among same-sex married people than those married to the opposite sex, reflecting a generally higher rate of suicide among LGBT+ people. 
“Of course it's positive that the suicide rate has nearly halved, but it remains worryingly high, particularly when one considers that the suicide rate can be higher among those who aren't married,” Erlangsen told Denmark's Information newspaper. 
Young LGBT+ people are at least three times as likely to attempt to commit suicide compared to hetrosexual young people, according to a 2018 meta-study drawing on research from 10 different countries. 
Sweden legalised gay marriage in 2009, with Denmark following after in 2012. 
Gay marriage is currently legal in 27 countries around the world, 16 of which are in Europe. 
Erlangsen’s study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, followed 28,000 people in same-sex unions over an average of 11 years. 
She collaborated with Gunnar Andersson at the Stockholm University Demography Unit, and  Charlotte Bjorkenstam at Stockholm's medical unisversity Karolinska Institutet.