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Swedish Government Party Wants to Force Imams, Rabbis to Wed Homosexuals

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According to the proposal by the Green Party of Sweden, part of the ruling "red-green" coalition, imams, rabbis, pastors, and other priests who refuse to marry homosexuals will no longer be allowed to perform weddings at all.

Despite Sweden's Marriage Code becoming gender neutral in 2009, only a handful of religious congregations marry gay couples. The Green Party, the ruling Social Democrats' sidekicks, want to make it illegal to refuse same-sex marriage.

“When it comes to the actual exercise of authority around marriage, I do not think it should be possible to discriminate against same-sex couples”, Gender Equality Minister Åsa Lindhagen told the newspaper Aftonbladet.

According to a survey conducted by national broadcaster SVT, only five of the 34 surveyed religious congregations marry homosexuals. The vast majority of congregations, including several Orthodox, Muslim, Baptist, Catholic, and Nontrinitarian congregations, including Jehovah's Witnesses, refuse to marry homosexuals.

To illustrate her point, Lindhagen made a comparison with an administrator at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency refusing certain people sickness benefits.

“We cannot have it”, she said.

The proposal implies that imams, rabbis, pastors, and other priests who refuse to marry homosexuals would no longer be allowed to perform weddings at all.

According to Lindhagen, this won't infringe on religious freedom.

“We have religious freedom in Sweden. You get to believe and think exactly what you want. This is about the legal part that makes you married. On the other hand, it is of course free to have religious ceremonies of various kinds”, Åsa Lindhagen said. “We do not force anyone to marry. But if you perform a task on behalf of the state, you should not be able to discriminate”, Lindhagen stressed.

The Green Party's ambition is now to get more parties jump aboard the proposal.

So far, no Swedish Muslim or Orthodox community has adopted same sex weddings. Habre Hissein, a board member of the Uppsala Mosque stressed that is not up to an individual imam to make decisions about same-sex marriages because it is against Islam.

By contrast, the Church of Sweden, Europe's largest Lutheran denomination at over 5 million worshippers and former state church, is permissive of gay marriage, and even has homosexual priests, although individual pastors are not obliged to marry homosexual couples.

The Church of Sweden performs around 15,400 weddings a year. In 2018, 162 of them were same-sex weddings.

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