Bishop speaks out for gay marriage

Iceland has had equal marriage legislation since 2010.

Iceland has had equal marriage legislation since 2010. Photo: AFP/Geoff Robins

The Bishop of Iceland has categorically stated that there is no possible way of interpreting Icelandic law to enable Church of Iceland priests to refuse to marry couples on the grounds of their sexuality.

Bishop Agnes Sigurðardóttir also states, in a letter to the Icelandic Minister for Home Affairs Ólöf Nordal, that as bishop she will never put forward any proposal which has the effect of enabling discrimination of this type.

‘Freedom of conscience’ to be scrapped

The letter was read out yesterday at the ongoing Church of Iceland Synod by Rev. Guðrún Karls Helgudóttir, the driving force behind a proposal to scrap any notion of ‘freedom of conscience’ for priests, i.e. the freedom to refuse to marry couples (who are otherwise eligible to marry) on the grounds of their sexuality.

A vote will be taken on Rev. Helgudóttir’s resolution at the Synod today or tomorrow.

Iceland’s current marriage legislation dates from 2010 and takes no account of the sexuality of couples wishing to marry. The Icelandic Minister for Home Affairs recently asked the Bishop of Iceland for proposals on the duties and rights of priests as regards marrying couples.

Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, Bishop of Iceland.

Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, Bishop of Iceland. Photo: Ómar

“No limits on human rights”

Rev. Helgudóttir reminded the Synod that Church of Iceland clergy had been actively involved in drafting and supporting the 2010 legislation.

Back in 2007, the Synod passed a resolution stating that “the freedom of clergy in these matters must be respected”, but Rev. Helgudóttir feels now is the time to “take things the whole way and place no limits on human rights”.

Duty of the Church to serve everybody

“The Church is the channel for Christ’s love and celebrates life in all its diversity,” concludes the Bishop’s letter.

“Christ’s love is wholly incompatible with prejudice, discrimination and discord. I trust that we shall be unanimous on the need for clear legislation and rules placing the duty of the Church of Iceland to serve everybody – regardless of their sexuality – above any doubt.”

Related article:

“Priests may not discriminate against gay couples”

If the resolution is passed, no priest will be allowed ...

If the resolution is passed, no priest will be allowed to exercise 'freedom of conscience' when it comes to marrying same-sex couples. Photo: Ómar Óskarsson

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