Denmark legislates same-sex Church marriages

2012-06-08 Vatican Radio

Denmark's Parliament has approved a law allowing same-sex couples to have church weddings in the state-controlled Lutheran Church. The law allows individual ministers to refuse to perform the ceremonies, but they cannot refuse to have the celebration in their church buildings.

“In the Lutheran Church itself it has caused a lot of turmoil. Although the majority is in favour…a significant minority is very much disappointed,” said Czeslaw Kozon, the Catholic Bishop of Copenhagen.

Although some Lutherans are threatening a schism from the state Church, Bishop Kozon told Vatican Radio he doubts it will greatly affect the Lutheran church in his country.

“I doubt it will be a great split, because there have been controversies in the Lutheran Church before, but I think this time the topic is so important and delicate it may be more difficult to foresee the consequences in the long run,” he said.

The new law only applies to the state-run churches in Denmark, but there are fears the government might try to extend the law to other religious groups in the future.

“One never knows. Indeed there have been voices who suggested this law should be obligatory for everybody,” said Bishop Kozon. “We have been assured by the Minister [Danish Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs Manu Sareen] that this will not be obligatory for non-Lutheran denominations.”

Denmark has allowed the registration of same-sex civil partnerships since 1989, and legalized same-sex marriage in 1997.

Listen to the full interview by Charles Collins with Bishop Kozon: