Swedish gays made to wait for church wedding

Despite being given the same legal marriage status as heterosexuals in a new law which came into force on May1st, Swedish same-sex couples will have to wait for a church "I do".

Sweden’s parliament in April approved by a wide majority a new marriage law

that puts gays on an equal footing with heterosexuals.

But the Lutheran Church, which was the state church until 2000, has said that while it supports the new law, its synod will only formally decide in October whether to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

“The new law implies a change in the marriage ceremony, and the Church has to be given a chance to take a stand on that,” the church’s interim secretary general, Anders Lindberg, told AFP on Thursday.

“The marriage act reflects a certain view of marriage, and the liturgy needs to be altered to reflect that change,” he added.

However, Lindberg said there had been no rush to the altar for same-sex couples.

“No, we’ve seen no indication of huge demand. We believe the message has gotten through to the public that same-sex couples can’t get married in the Lutheran Church yet,” he said.

Prior to the new law, homosexuals were only allowed to register their “partnerships” in a civil ceremony, whereas heterosexuals could choose to marry in either a civil or religious ceremony.

Civil unions granting same-sex couples the same legal status as married couples have been allowed under Swedish law since 1995.

Since 2007, the Lutheran Church, which counts around 74 percent of Swedes as members, has offered gays a religious blessing of their union.

A number of homosexual couples, including some who have already registered their partnership, have indicated that they plan to hold civil marriage ceremonies on May 1st.

Sweden, already a pioneer in giving same-sex couples the right to adopt children, would become one of the first countries in the world to allow gays to marry in a major Church.

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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.