Swedish Gay Priest Refuses to Wed Straight Couples

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While same-sex couples have been allowed to get married in the Church of Sweden since 2009, there is no requirement for priests to agree to perform such a ceremony.

Refusal to wed is a right many church politicians and activists seek to remove.Openly homosexual priest Lars Gårdfeldt of the Carl Johan Parish in Gothenburg has refused to wed heterosexual couples.In doing so, Lars Gårdfeldt referred to an individual priest’s right not to marry a couple in case of conscientious objection.

The Swedish church currently allows individual priests to refuse to wed specific couples if they consider there to be an issue with the union.

This is typically illustrated by either of the parties being drunk or under the influence of drugs, but could also include homosexuality, which an individual priest may not necessarily condone.

“Then the same thing has to apply to me as a homosexual priest”, Lars Gårdfeldt explained to Swedish Radio. “Then I have to have the right to turn down straight couples”.By his own admission, 56-year-old Gårfeldt wants to “show the absurdity of refusing marriage to two consenting adults”.

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Same-sex couples have been allowed to get married in the Church of Sweden since 2009. However, there is no requirement for priests to agree to perform such a marriage. A priest can today say no, a right many church politicians want to remove, demanding that all priests be prepared to marry same-sex couples. Of late, this issue has flared up anew in the run-up to church elections on 19 September.

“I want to fix the debate. We should not recruit new anti-gay priests. We should not ordain new priests who pass on the idea that homosexuals are inferior people”, Gårfeldt told the newspaper Expressen.

Archbishop Antje Jackelén, however, maintained that making it mandatory to wed same-sex couples is untenable.”

That attitude is impossible because it is contrary to the Church of Sweden’s creed. This is the responsibility of the bishops”, Jackelén said.

On the other hand, the Church of Sweden is obliged to find an officiant for all couples that wish to get married.

On social media, however, sarcastic jokes were made about Gårdfeldt being a “champion of tolerance” and “Protestants’ taking L’s”. Others ventured that the Church of Sweden has become a “freakshow”.

At over 5 million worshippers, the Church of Sweden is Europe’s largest Lutheran denomination. Formerly a state church, it is famous for its liberal stance on social issues including its vehement support of feminism, sexual minorities, and migrants, as well as having ordained the world’s first openly lesbian bishop.

2 September, 06:06 GMTGårdfeldt is known as a long-time LGBT activist. He previously ran for parliament with the Feminist Initiative party, as well as penned a pulp fiction novel with erotic scenes.



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