Sweden approves same-sex marriage legislation

Sweden approves same-sex marriage legislation Stockholm - A broad majority in the Swedish parliament Wednesday approved adoption of same-sex marriage legislation after a six-hour debate.

Six of the seven parties in parliament had backed the proposal drafted by the Committee on Civil Affairs to introduce a gender- neutral marriage law.

Only the Christian Democrats, one of the four parties in the ruling centre-right coalition, opposed the move.

Yvonne Andersson said her party wanted to maintain "a several hundred-year-old concept" about marriage.

Supporters of the gender-neutral legislation included Evon Frid of the Left Party who said it was "not a negative change, but a positive change."

The proposal was approved by a 261 to 22 vote, with 16 abstentions.

The new legislation is to take effect as of May 1, and replaces the legislation approved in 1995 that allows same-sex couples to form a union in Sweden via registered partnership.

Couples who have registered partnership can keep that status or amend it by an application to the authorities or marry.

Soren Juvas, president of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, said it was "a great victory".

The changes will not affect church marriage ceremonies for the time being.

The Church of Sweden, a Lutheran church, was this autumn due to discuss its stance.

It was disestablished in 2000, receiving the same "faith community" designation as other faiths, such as the Pentecostal, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim.

A majority of bishops in the Church of Sweden in February said the church should no longer handle legal registrations of marriage. (dpa)