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FAROE ISLANDS SAY YES TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

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The Faroe Islands became the final Nordic country to legalize same-sex marriage. On a vote of 19-14, the Faroe Islands approved the adoption of Denmark’s same-sex matrimonial laws, with the only difference being that the Faroese church will not be performing same-sex weddings unless they choose to.

The Faroe Islands, a self-governing archipelago in the Danish Kingdom, has passed same-sex marriage legislation. Comprised of 18 rocky, beautiful volcanic islands, and located between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean, it is the final Nordic country to adopt some form of same-sex legal unions.

The Faroese Parliament voted 19 to 14 in favor of same-sex marriage on April 29th 2016. Denmark legalized same-sex marriage in 2012. The only difference between the two laws will be is that while Denmark allows same-sex couples to wed in their churches, the Faroe Islands will not. Marrying in churches was left out of the law for fear that more conservative members of the Faroese Parliament would vote against it. However, it is now up the Faroese Protestant church to decide if they will allow same-sex couples to receive the church’s blessing in the future.

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Given the Faroe Islands’ remoteness, one might expect the Faroese to be less aware of LGBT issues than their Nordic neighbors. However, the islands are home to a powerful LGBT movement that has driven a sea change in attitudes regarding homosexuality and LGBT issues in recent years. Following years of public activism, laws were introduced in 2006 which banned hate speech based on sexual orientation. Since that time, life has vastly improved for LGBT citizens in the Faroe Islands.
In a 2013 poll, two thirds of Faroese people said they support same-sex marriage. However, efforts to introduce marriage equality in the Faroe Islands were voted down by its Parliament in 2014.

In 2015, a new progressive government coalition was formed and, simultaneously, the first openly gay person was elected to the Faroese Parliament. Sonja Jógvansdóttir received the third most votes in the country. Her first task was to reintroduce the same-sex marriage bill. After 8 months of intense debates, lobbyism, and activism from both sides of the argument, the bill was finally approved on April 29th 2016.

The bill will now be sent to the Danish Parliament who must repeal a clause in Denmark’s 2012 equal marriage law that states that the Danish constituent territories, Greenland and Faroe Islands, will not be affected by the 2012 marriage legislation. The future vote there is seen as a simple formality and once the bill is read in the Danish Parliament three times, it will be sent for Royal Assent so the law can come into effect.

Same-sex marriages will come into effect in the Faroe Islands in December.

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