STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Observer Update) - Sweden became the seventh country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, 365Gay.com reported.
Following a five-hour debate in Parliament, the legislation was overwhelmingly passed on a 261 to 22 vote, with 16 abstentions. The new law will go into effect May 1, replacing a 1995 law that allowed civil partnerships.
Six of the country’s seven political parties backed the bill. Only the Christian Democrats voted against it.
“This is a great victory,” said Soren Juvas, president of the Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights.
A parliamentary committee studying civil partnerships in 2007 called them “outdated” and recommended Parliament allow same-sex marriage.
The new law does not require churches to conduct same-sex weddings, but the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran church, and the largest denomination in the country, will consider a motion this fall to allow pastors to perform gay weddings.
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