Denmark – the gay issue
Posted by Fr Mark on May 30, 2011
Majority: allow gay church marriages
Published 10.05.11 09:50
Advocates say poll shows people “ahead of” decision makers when it comes to gay marriage While the country’s bishops are divided in their opinion on church wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples, the public seems to favour it. A new Rambøll/Analyse…
While the country’s bishops are divided in their opinion on church wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples, the public seems to favour it.
A new Rambøll/Analyse Danmark poll shows that 75.8 percent of the population approves of same sex marriage ceremonies in church.
The result came as no surprise to the national association of homosexuals LGBT.
“The population is far ahead of the country’s bishops and politicians,” George Hinge, the organisation’s church policy spokesperson, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
“A majority of Danes believe it’s not right to look at gender in relation to a church wedding ceremony, yet the current legislation forbids any religious community from marrying homosexual couples.”
According to Statistics Denmark, some 400 same-sex civil partnerships are registered every year. There are, however, no figures on how many homosexual couples would choose a church ceremony.
“We estimate that just like heterosexual people, that figure is around half. What’s important for us is that homosexuals are given the same rights as everyone else. We do not want to force vicars to marry homosexual couples against their will. But as things stand today, all vicars are forced not to do it, even though they might want to,” said Hinge.
Kresten Drejergaard, the bishop of the Funen diocese, is encouraging politicians to come up with a new Marriage Act that gives couples the same rights, regardless of their sexual orientation.
“The term ‘same-sex civil partnership’ is a clumsy-sounding concept that we need to break with. It sounds like management-speak,” said Drejergaard.
“Marriage and registered partnership are one and the same thing. The criteria have got to be love, and a homosexual relationship is just as strong as a heterosexual one.”
Per Stig Møller, the church minister, wants to find a solution that is not at odds with half of the population. The Liberal church spokesperson, MP Per Bisgaard, is convinced that such a solution is on its way – possibly in the shape of a specific marriage ritual for homosexual couples.
“The population has always been significantly more positive towards same-sex marriages than church representatives, and I believe that is the right way to go,” he said.
Legal theologian and ecclesiastical expert Kristine Garde believes the theological arguments against same-sex wedding ceremonies are not echoed by the Danish population, even though more than 80 percent of them are members of the established church.
“The church will need to adapt when there is such a strong public indication that same-sex marriage ceremonies should be put on the same footing as heterosexual ones,” said Garde. “We should assume that in future appointments of vicars, they will be asked whether they would marry homosexual couples.”