A gay priest is using his role to draw attention to bigotry in his church by refusing to marry heterosexual couples.
Priests in the Church of Sweden are permitted to refuse marrying any couple if they object to the union, a right that has been used to deny marriage to same-sex couples even though the country has had marriage equality since 2009.
Priest Lars Gårdsfeldt is refusing to marry any straight couples in order to raise awareness of the bigotry still allowed by the church.
He has spoken out against the church’s denying rights to LGBTIQ+ people and said that the responsibility for change lies with bishops.
“I want to show the absurdity, the theological and ethical reprehensibility, of denying marriage to two consenting adults,” Gårdsfeldt told P4 Göteborg.
“Then the same must apply to me as a homosexual, then I can say no to heterosexual couples.”
Gårdsfeldt is calling for homophobic priests who discriminate against same-sex couples to be refused inclusion in the church.
“We should not ordain new priests who pass on the idea that homosexuals are inferior people,” he said.
“I cannot understand why it is so important for the bishops and the archbishop to continue to ordain anti-gay priests.”
More than half of the Swedish population are part of the Church of Sweden.
Several political parties in the country also want to end the right of priests to discriminate against same-sex couples in performing weddings.
The controversy over marriage equality in the Church of Sweden comes ahead of this weekend’s election within the church.
LGBTIQ+ rights in Sweden are considered among the most progressive in the world.
Homosexuality was legalised in 1944, and before marriage equality, same-sex couples were able to legally register their partnerships from 1995.
Sweden in 1972 also became the first country to allow trans people to legally change their sex.