'Homosexuality just a trend,’ says senior Swedish cleric

Participants attend the annual gay pride parade march in Stockholm, Sweden © Vilhelm Stokstad
Homosexuality is just a trend among young people and it's hard to remove yourself once you are in it, said a senior figure of the Church of Sweden, the world's largest Lutheran congregation.

The controversial statement was made by Bruno Edgarsson, a head of the diocese's administrative board in the town of Växjö, southern Sweden, and a member of Sweden’s Center Party.

“I don’t know why they [young people] choose to become homosexuals, but I believe it has become a trend among young people, and then it isn’t easy to remove yourself from it,” Edgarsson told local Smålänningen newspaper. 

He was speaking a week after Pride Festival in Växjö which drew over 9,000 participants. The events during the festival were partially-organized by the Swedish Church.

“I am definitely against Pride. I think it should be a man and a woman and I can’t reconcile myself with LBGT,” he said.

Edgarsson, however, says that he is not going to come outside and shout at every corner that he is against LGBT. He added that his comments don't mean that he hates gays.

"I really don't [hate gays]... God loves everyone and everyone is welcome in the church."

He added that many Christians stopped going to church because they disapprove of church's stance towards homosexuals.

"The Church has lost many members because of this, in my circle of friends I know several people who have left the Church because of the fact that homosexuals can marry in the Church."

Edgarsson's comments created quite a stir in LGBT-friendly Sweden. Center Party, of which Edgarsson is a member, hurried to tell the Local that the party distanced itself from his comments.

“We aren’t in agreement with what he said and the party distances itself from the comments,” said Per Schöldberg, the Center Party’s chairman for the Kronoberg district.

“I didn’t previously know about these thoughts on homosexuality. It was news for me,” he added.

Fellow Bishop Fredrik Modéus told TT news agency that for him, "it is important to say that what the rainbow flag stands for – diversity and difference – is completely consistent with my Christian faith.”

“I come across this debate in the form of either very strong agreement or very strong disagreement. That shows how polarized the question is. Meetings need to take place. To not communicate over this would be the worst of all,” he added.

Sweden is very liberal towards the LGBT community, having become the seventh country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages. Same-sex couples have been able to adopt children since 2003, and lesbian couples have enjoyed equal access to IVF and assisted insemination since 2005.

In 2009, the assembly of the Church of Sweden voted to give its blessing to homosexual couples.