Denmark’s Parliament has voted in favour of a change to the law which brings about marriage equality and means same-sex couples can now marry in a church.
MPs voted 85-24 yesterday to change the country’s marriage laws, and the change will come into effect next week on June 15.
Since around 80% of Danes are members of the state Evangelical Lutheran Church, the fact that same-sex couples will now be allowed to wed in them is a significant step.
Before same-sex marriage, Denmark recognised same-sex couples through registered partnerships – it was the first country in the world to do so, back in 1989.
Following yesterday’s vote, existing registered partnerships will have the option of converting to a marriage, while no new registered partnerships will be able to be created.
“This is equality between couples of the same gender and couples of different genders. A major step forward,” says Danish Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs Manu Sareen.
Denmark’s Christian Democratic Party has now announced it plans to initiate a class action suit against the new law, claiming it infringes on the right to free religious belief and is thus unconstitutional.
Here in Australia, Bills before Parliament to create marriage equality make clear that churches will not be forced to marry same-sex couples, so they will be free to refuse those couples from formalising their relationship in a church ceremony if they wish.