Swedish PM tells priests to carry out same-sex marriages ‘or do something else’
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has suggested that all Church of Sweden priests be compelled to perform gay marriages, despite the Lutheran church’s position that clergy members should have the right to refuse.
Same-sex weddings have been legal in Sweden since 2009, although priests can decline to carry out these ceremonies under the country’s marriage code.
This could now change, however, given Lofven’s recent comments about the role of priests in Swedish society.
The prime minister indicated in an interview with a church magazine that if a priest cannot bless a gay marriage, they should consider another vocation.
“We Social Democrats are working to ensure all priests will consecrate everyone, including same-sex couples,” Lofven told Kyrkans Tidning magazine.
“I see parallels to the midwife who refuses to perform abortions. If you work as a midwife you must be able to perform abortions, otherwise you have to do something else… It is the same for priests,” he said.
Official documents from the church say it “offers” both heterosexual and homosexual marriage ceremonies. Although it is not against gay marriage, the Church of Sweden’s official stance is that “no priest should be obliged to officiate at the wedding of a same-sex couple.”
In the interview, Lofven, who is not religious, defended the perceived political incursion into the practice of religion, saying “the church must stand up for human equality.”
"The church will continue to play a major role, especially in times like these with terror and refugee crisis,” he added.
“The church binds society together and provides security,” he added.