By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
STOCKHOLM, November 6, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Sweden’s parliament is preparing to consider so-called “gender neutral marriage” legislation that would allow homosexuals to "marry" and give them all the same rights as natural marriage, including church weddings, adoption and assisted pregnancies.
Should Sweden pass the legislation it would be following close on the heels of its neighbor Norway. In June the Norwegian parliament gave final approval to a same-sex "marriage" law that allows homosexuals to "marry" and adopt children and permits lesbians to be artificially inseminated.
Civil unions granting homosexuals the same legal status as married couples have been allowed in Sweden since 1995, with the country’s predominant Lutheran church offering "a religious blessing" on these civil unions; however, government registration and church blessing as a "marriage" was not permitted.
AFP reports, "If the new legislation is adopted, Sweden, already a pioneer in giving same-sex couples the right to adopt children, would become the first country in the world to allow gays to marry within a major church."
This law would make Sweden the eighth jurisdiction in the world to legalize same-sex "marriage," with the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, the state of Massachusetts, South Africa and Norway leading the way.
Opposition to the legislation is being voiced by the Christian Democrat party, while the other three members of Sweden’s four-party coalition government, as well as the opposition Social Democrats, the country’s biggest party, support the proposal.
"Pastors who do not want to perform a gay wedding ceremony may however have the right to refuse, something gay rights’ activists have criticised," the AFP report states.