Same-sex marriage in Norway
Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway on 1 January 2009, when a gender-neutral marriage bill was enacted after being passed by the Norwegian Parliament in June 2008. Norway became the first Scandinavian country and the sixth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
Previously, from 1993 to 2008, Norway allowed same-sex couples to enter registered partnerships. Norway was the second country in the world to provide some form of recognition to same-sex couples, behind Denmark.
Norway has allowed same-sex registered partnerships since 1 August 1993, when a law regulating such partnerships came into force. Norway became the second country to do so, after Denmark, which implemented a registered partnership law in 1989.
The act stated that the articles in the Adoption Act relating to married couples shall not apply for registered partners. It also stated that artificial insemination can only be given to a married couple or cohabitants of opposite sexes. In June 2001, however, the Norwegian Parliament approved a bill allowing registered partners to adopt their partner's children. The law took effect on 1 January 2002.
Since 2009, couples who have registered their relationships may retain their status as registered partners or "upgrade" to a marriage since the new marriage law has taken effect. However, no new registered partnerships may be created.
A bill was proposed on 18 November 2004 by two MPs from the Socialist Left Party to abolish the existing registered partnership laws, and make marriage laws gender-neutral. The move was withdrawn and replaced by a request that the Cabinet further investigate the issue. The Conservative Cabinet of that time did not look into the issue. However, the Stoltenberg's Second Cabinet announced a common, unified marriage act as part of its foundation document, the First Declaration of Soria Moria. A public hearing was opened on 16 May 2007.
On 29 May 2008, the Associated Press reported that two Norwegian opposition parties (The Liberal Party and The Conservative Party) came out in favour of the new bill, assuring its passage at the vote on 11 June 2008. Prior to this, there were some disagreements with members of the three-party governing Coalition on whether the bill had enough votes to pass.
The first parliamentary hearing, including the vote, was held on 11 June 2008, with the lower house approving by 84 votes to 41 a bill that allowed same-sex couples to marry. This came after the Norwegian Government proposed a marriage law on 14 March 2008, that would give lesbian and gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, including church weddings (although the law does not oblige any religious community to marry same-sex couples), full joint adoption and assisted pregnancies. The new legislation amended the definition of civil marriage to make it gender-neutral. Norway's upper house passed the bill with a 23–17 vote on 17 June. The King of Norway, Harald V, granted royal assent thereafter. The law took effect on 1 January 2009. In addition to providing a gender-neutral definition of marriage, the law states that when a woman who is married to another woman becomes pregnant through artificial insemination, the other partner will have all the rights of parenthood "from the moment of conception".
From 2009 to 2015, an average of 270 same-sex marriages had taken place per year, compared to an average of 127 registered partnerships from 1993 to 2008. 754 partnerships were converted to marriages in the first three years of same-sex marriage being legal. Female couples were more likely to adopt children than male couples, as about 30% of all married female couples had children, compared to 72% of straight couples and 3% of male couples.
300 same-sex marriages were performed in 2015, accounting for about 1.3% of all marriages celebrated that year. In 2016, same-sex marriages accounted for 1.2% of all marriages. Only 0.7% and 0.8% of all divorces were between same-sex couples those two years.
Marriages in the Church of Norway
In 2015, the Church of Norway voted to allow same-sex marriages to take place in its churches. The decision was ratified at the annual conference on 11 April 2016. The church formally amended its marriage liturgy on 30 January 2017, replacing references to "bride and groom" with gender-neutral text. A male same-sex couple was immediately married in the church the moment the changes came into effect, on 1 February 2017.
Five different polls conducted by Gallup Europe, Sentio, Synovate MMI, Norstat and YouGov in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013 concluded that 61%, 63%, 66%, 58%, 70% and 78%, respectively, of the Norwegian population supported gender-neutral marriage laws.
A Pew Research Center poll, conducted between April and August 2017 and published in May 2018, showed that 72% of Norwegians supported same-sex marriage, 19% were opposed and 9% didn't know or refused to answer. When divided by religion, 83% of religiously unaffiliated people, 72% of non-practicing Christians and 42% of church-attending Christians supported same-sex marriage.
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