All priests must perform all marriages, say Swedish Greens


Northern Europe


In Sweden, most marriages are performed in church. Photo: Royal marriage in June 2013. Photo AFP, Anders Wiklund

The new manifesto of the Swedish Green Party will mention that priests are obliged to marry people of the same sex. Exceptions based on religious objections can no longer be allowed.

The Green Party's congress decided this last Saturday.

In Sweden, official marriage is an issue that is mainly in the hands of the church. Most people decide to register their promises before a priest, even if they are no regular churchgoers. But the legislation on marriage does not come from the church but the state.

In many countries, it would be strange if a political party would say something about the internal order of the church. In Sweden, this is different. Until 2000, the Evangelical Lutheran Church was the official state church. The General Assembly of the church is still organised by political parties. For that reason, there is a strong political influence in the church.

The Swedish church decided to perform same-sex weddings in 2009. Priests with conscientious objections are free to say no to this task. Still, they have to point to another priest willing to perform the marriage. That still remains the policy of the church.

However, the Green Party sees this as a form of legalising discrimination since the state has marriage in a gender-neutral way. Therefore, the party decided that officiants who refuse this should lose their right to perform these marriages.

"Quite laughable"

This summer, there was already a debate about this. In the run-up to the elections for the General Assembly mid-September, some parties campaigned for ending this policy. New candidates for the priesthood should sign up for all marriages without any exception. "It is quite laughable that in 2021 we can choose not to marry same-sex couples", Liberal Anna Ekström said in that campaign.

According to Dagen, the church's archbishop Antje Jackelén is against any change in the regulation. This will undermine the bishops' responsibility and mission if they are not allowed to make an overall assessment of the priestly candidates.

On social media, there was a lot of affirmation for the Greens' decision. According to Dagen, political groups do not agree about a change.



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