Norway allows same-sex marriages

June 12th, 2008 - 9:03 am ICT by IANS  

Oslo, June 12 (DPA) A new common marriage law that will allow same-sex couples in Norway to marry won broad approval Wednesday in parliament, and was welcomed with applause and cheers from the public gallery. “It is a historic day,” Gunn Karin Gjul of the Labour Party said during the debate.

Gjul, a member of the parliamentary committee on family affairs, compared the passing of the bill to “universal suffrage and the gender equality law.”

The amended marriage law was criticized by the opposition Christian Democrats and populist Progress Party, who voted against.

During the debate, members of both parties said they especially opposed the legislation giving lesbian couples the same access to “medically assisted reproduction” as heterosexual couples.

Peaceful protests were also staged outside parliament earlier Wednesday over the proposed changes.

Christian Democrat leader Dagfinn Hoybraten called the bill “a big experiment,” adding that while his party rejected discrimination against homosexuals it wanted to protect the rights of children.

Children conceived with artificial insemination risk not knowing their biological parents, which would violate the United Nations Children’s Convention, critics said.

The law was backed by the ruling red-green coalition of the Labour Party, the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party as well as members of the opposition Conservatives and Liberals.

Socialist Left Party leader Kristin Halvorsen, also finance minister, said the bill was for “equal rights” and against all forms of discrimination.

The amended law would also allow - but not oblige - the Church of Norway and registered religious communities to bless same-sex marriages.

Same-sex couples that have registered their partnership may convert the partnership into marriage, the Ministry of Children and Equality said.

The bill also widens the scope for adoption for same-sex couples.

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