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Norway bishops step back from gay weddings

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Norway bishops step back from gay weddings
Danish travel magnate Stig Elling married his long-term partner Steen Andersen in June 2012
11:51 CEST+02:00
Norway's bishops will push for gay couples to have their civil unions blessed in church rather than for full church weddings when they meet for their annual synod next year, the country's Lutheran church has said.
At a meeting earlier this week, eight of the country's twelve bishops declared themselves in favour of allowing same-sex couples to have full church weddings, the church said on Thursday. 
 
But, after discussions with the four opposing bishops, they agreed to settle for the simpler ceremony to avoid splitting the church. 
 
Even this scaled-down option is opposed by some or all of the opposing bishops, making it far from certain that it will be agreed at the synod, which is scheduled to take place in April 2014. 
 
Norway is one of the most liberal countries in Europe when it comes to homosexuality. Same-sex civil marriage and adoptions have been legal since 2009, and the Church of Norway also allows the ordination of homosexuals.
 
But it falls behind its Scandinavian neighbours on church weddings.  Neighbouring Sweden authorised religious same-sex marriage in 2009.
 
Denmark in 2012 made it mandatory for all churches to offer full religious weddings for same-sex couples, although priests opposed on principle can ask a colleague to take the service their place. 
 
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