The Swedish Parliament was presented with legislation that would allow Gay couples to marry in civil ceremonies or in the Lutheran Church, which until 2000 was the official church of Sweden. “The main proposal in the motion is that … a person’s gender will no longer have any bearing on whether they can marry. The marriage law and other laws concerning spouses will be rendered gender neutral according to the proposal,” a statement from Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s conservative Moderates said.
The proposal had wide backing in parliament. While heterosexuals in Sweden could previously choose to marry in either a civil ceremony or a church ceremony, homosexuals were only allowed to register their “partnerships” in a civil ceremony. Civil unions granting Gays and Lesbians the same legal status as married couples were allowed in Sweden since 1995. On October 22, 2009, the governing board of the Church of Sweden, voted 176–62 in favor of allowing its priests to wed same-sex couples in new gender-neutral church ceremonies, including the use of the term marriage. Same-sex marriages have been performed by the church since November 1, 2009
With the adoption of the new legislation, Sweden, became the first country in the world to allow Gay people to marry within a major Church. Under the proposal, Lutheran pastors are permitted to opt-out of performing Gay marriages if they have personal objections.