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After extensive debate both in media and in parliament, the Finnish parliament passed a gender-neutral law on marriage on April 2016 and it came into effect on March 1st 2017. It repealed an earlier law of 2001 on same sex unions (registered relationship/civil union). Previous civil unions can be registered as marriages by sending a notification to the registrar.

However, same-sex marriages are still a dilemma for the Lutheran Church. A provision in the Church law requires a majority of ¾ of the General Synod of the Church for a proposal to be accepted if the proposal in question affects Church Service Book. For the time being, the Lutheran Church does not marry same-sex partners. It has instead instigated research whether to give up the right to marry altogether, continue with the present practice of not marrying same-sex partners, or allow same-sex marriages. Discussion about Church´s policy continues intensely.

According to the marriage law, a registered religious organization has the right to perform legal marriages. More than 40 religious organizations have this status, and they can stipulate the conditions and protocols of marriage of their denomination. The alternative to religious wedding is civil wedding, which is also a possibility when spouses are of different faith. Civil wedding is usually performed by registrars, notaries or judges. In 2015 47% of married couples had a Lutheran Church wedding.

D 25 mai 2017    ATommi Heino

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