Same-sex Weddings Begin Inside the Church of Norway

320px-Flag_of_Norway.svg

After several years of lobbying by LGBT Christians and supportive priests, the Church of Norway held its final vote to celebrate same-sex ceremonies within its premises this week.

Monday’s vote of 83-29 in favor of a new gender-neutral liturgy was cheered through out the country with couples planning preparations on February 1st when the new rules would come into effect.

The first same-sex couple to marry inside the Norwegian Lutheran Church was a pair of men who wed at the stroke of midnight on Wednesday.

Unlike other Scandinavian countries, Norway passed a 2009 civil marriage law that did not have State Church weddings tied into its legislation.

The new State Church rules explain that religious leaders have a right to decline officiating a same-sex wedding, but the same parish must find a replacement for the couples.

Gratulerer til alle v√•re venner i Norge! ūüôā

Guernsey Passes Final Same-sex Marriage Legislation; Weddings in 2017

320px-flag_of_guernsey-svg

The States of Guernsey approved a same-sex marriage bill today by a vote of 33-5.

This vote comes almost a year after Guernsey voted in principle to modify their marriage laws to include same-sex couples.

The bill will now be sent to the Privy Council for its promulgation and weddings are expected to begin in mid-2017.

Guernsey is the second of the three British Crown Dependencies to open the door to same-sex weddings after Isle of Man began marrying couples in July. Jersey, who also voted in principle last year to expand marriage rights like Guernsey, stated that they will vote on their own final legislation in the coming months and also wish to hold weddings in 2017.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Guernsey, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Guernsey

Gibraltar’s Government Presents Same-sex Marriage Bill

320px-flag_of_gibraltar-svg

Gibraltar’s Government announced the introduction of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage today.

Originally planned to make its debut¬†earlier this year, the Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016¬†was delayed due to both the UK’s European Union referendum and the high volume of feedback¬†during the consultation process.

With almost 3,500 answers submitted, the legislation is said to have received the largest number of public responses ever.

Despite stating that a conscience vote will be used in his center-left coalition, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is optimistic that there is enough support within his Government to approve the law.

Picardo’s coalition controls 10 of the 17 seats of Parliament while the Opposition, whose leader also expressed¬†his confidence that his party will vote in favor, controls the remaining seats and announced¬†a conscience vote as well.

The marriage bill will allow couples in civil partnerships to convert their union to a marriage if they desire.

Currently, gender-neutral civil partnerships with full adoption rights exist in the territory since 2014.

The civil partnership bill, which was viewed as a milestone by locals, was approved 16-0 after the Supreme Court of Gibraltar ruled that same-sex couples must not be excluded from the adoption process.

The Mariage Act¬†will be debated for the first time no earlier than six weeks after its publication as mandated by Gibraltar’s constitution.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Gibraltar, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Gibraltar

Slovenia Approves New Same-sex Partnership Law Following Public’s Repeal of Their Marriage Bill

320px-flag_of_slovenia-svg

Following last year’s repeal of a same-sex marriage law in the country, Slovenian lawmakers approved a civil partnership bill to give couples the same rights as marriage barring joint adoption and in-vitro fertilization. Unlike previous occasions, the Constitutional Court blocked a referendum to repeal the partnership law and it is expected to become functional in February of 2017.

The bill is¬†the third attempt to fulfill a 2009 Constitutional Court ruling ordering¬†Parliament to improve Slovenia’s¬†current civil partnership law, especially in the area of pensions.

In 2011, a change to the Family Code¬†granting the same rights as marriage and allowing same-sex couples the right to adopt their partner’s biological child was passed, but eventually repealed through the first of two public votes against a proposal on same-sex unions.

In 2014, a new Government considered another civil partnership bill before deciding to extend full equality to all couples instead and approve a same-sex marriage bill with joint adoption rights.

Once again, signatures for a repeal were collected and the Constitutional Court overrode the National Assembly’s decision to block the referendum which resulted in another defeat for same-sex couples.

After¬†the 2015 marriage referendum, a member of Parliament introduced a bill similar to the Government’s civil partnership proposal that was passed in April. Conservative groups attempted to start a new referendum process, but were stopped by the Speaker of the National Assembly after he considered that they were abusing the country’s referendum law.

While the Court deliberated on the referendum case, the partnership bill was sent to the President to be promulgated. It was signed in May and published shortly after.

On July 22nd, the Court decided to block the referendum for the first time.

The new civil partnership law will come into effect on February 24th, 2017.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Slovenia, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Slovenia

Italy Celebrates First Civil Union

320px-flag_of_italy-svg

Last May, Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, promulgated the Civil Union bill and it was published as law in the country’s Official Gazette the following day.

The first civil union was celebrated by two men in Lugo on Sunday despite the government not issuing the pending administrative orders yet.

Since¬†the bill’s approval, opponents of the legislation have threatened a referendum to repeal it.¬†While adoption rights remain controversial with many Italians and within the Italian Senate, as witnessed by the removal of a stepchild adoption clause during parliamentary debates, civil unions themselves are widely accepted by the public according to annual polls.

The Senate’s removal of the clause granting some adoption rights was replaced¬†with one stating that the Italian Government would respect court orders on the subject of parental rights.

This will function as a first step, as throughout the years, many verdicts regarding same-sex adoption have been successful in different courts around the country.

A¬†verdict¬†delivered last week from Italy’s Court of Cassation¬†allowed a woman in a same-sex relationship to adopt her partner’s child. The court’s decision did not legalize stepchild adoption, but will instead allow lower court judges to borrow from the court’s ruling on a case by case basis.

This halfway step from the judiciary was cheered by activists, but also served as a reminder that a law to automatically grant the right to stepchild adoption must still be passed through the Legislature in the future.

A separate bill to allow stepchild adoption was proposed in Parliament earlier this year, but may prove difficult to pass as seen by this spring’s events.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Italy, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Italy

Norway Simplifies Their Legal Gender Change Laws

320px-Flag_of_Norway.svg

Norway recently modified their laws to allow a person to change their legal gender without the need of surgical, hormonal, and psychiatric intervention.

In the past, Norwegians seeking the change had to undergo hormone treatments, be sterilized, and pass a series of sessions with a psychiatrist before they could receive documentation with their new gender listed. The length of the entire process¬†could last several years before a person’s new gender was officially recognized.

The Norwegian Health Ministry’s recent¬†proposal was hailed as a breakthrough as it only requires self-declaration and a document that is filled in by the applicant then sent to the nearest Tax Office which registers civil statuses.

Parliament approved the bill on June 7th on a vote of 79-13. It was promulgated on June 17th and will take effect on July 1st.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Norway, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Norway

Swiss Parliament Approves Stepchild Adoption Bill

320px-flag_of_switzerland_28pantone29-svg

Last week, Switzerland’s stepchild adoption bill was approved in its final vote in the Legislature.

Stepchild adoption, the right of a person to adopt their partner’s biological child, will be granted to non-married couples regardless of gender if the bill becomes law.

The bill was passed by large majorities in both chambers of Swiss Parliament.

In March, Switzerland’s upper house, the Council of States, approved the adoption reform by a 25-14 vote while the lower house, the National Council, approved the bill on a vote of 113-64 last Saturday.

According to the Wikipedia page following LGBT progress in Switzerland, opponents of the bill may still force a referendum under Swiss law if they collect 50,000 signatures within 100 days. Failure to do so will result in the adoption bill becoming law.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Switzerland, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Switzerland