Sweden's Lutheran Church blesses ceremony for same-sex partnerships

Sweden's Lutheran Church approved special church ceremonies to bless same-sex partnerships but not traditional weddings.

The issue has been debated since the secularized Scandinavian country recognized civil unions for homosexual couples in 1994.

The Swedish Church Assembly, the decision-making body for the Church of Sweden, voted 160-81 to approve a blessing ceremony for same-sex partnerships.

Sweden has a liberal attitude toward homosexuals, but gay marriage is not yet legal. Later this year a government-appointed committee is expected to file a report on whether the law allowing civil unions between homosexuals should be changed to include marriage as well.

More than 7 million of Sweden's 9 million inhabitants belong to the Church of Sweden, but few attend church regularly, the AP reports.

V.Y.