COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The Danish government is set to introduce a bill in early 2012 that will allow gays and lesbians to marry, positioning Denmark to become the eighth country in Europe to recognize same-sex civil marriages.
The government’s appointed Church minister, Manu Sareen, a social liberal, said that the government plans to introduce the bill just after the New Year which will allow same-sex couples to hold weddings in the Church of Denmark and be “married” legally as recognized by Danish law, reported Jyllands-Posten, a leading Danish newspaper.
Currently under the law, same-sex couples are allowed to have “registered partnerships,” a civil status, but are barred from marriage and church weddings.
“The first same-sex weddings will hopefully become reality in Spring 2012. I look forward to the moment the first homosexual couple steps out of the church. I’ll be standing out there throwing rice,” Sareen said.
Sareen’s appointment to the post of minister was one of the more more controversial of the new coalition government.
He is a professed religious “doubter,” who, before becoming church minister, came close to writing himself off the national church registry, in direct protest against its long-standing ban on same-sex marriage.
Denmark was the first country in the world to allow gay civil partnerships with legislation in 1989. But the country stopped short of calling it “marriage” and same-sex couples still are not allowed to have marriage ceremonies in the Church of Denmark.
Public polls taken over the years, and as recent as last week, suggest around 69 percent of the population supports same-sex marriage.
In Europe, only The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, and Iceland currently recognize same-sex civil marriages.