Following a five-hour debate in Parliament, the legislation was overwhelmingly passed on a 261 to 22 vote, with 16 abstentions. The new law will go into effect May 1, replacing a 1995 law that allowed civil partnerships.
Six of the country’s seven political parties backed the bill. Only the Christian Democrats voted against it.
“This is a great victory,” said Soren Juvas, president of the Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights.
A parliamentary committee studying civil partnerships in 2007 called them “outdated” and recommended Parliament allow same-sex marriage.
The new law does not require churches to conduct same-sex weddings, but the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran church, and the largest denomination in the country, will consider a motion this fall to allow pastors to perform gay weddings.
The Swedish Lutheran Church has offered blessing services for couples in civil unions since 2007, but it has balked at allowing pastors to perform weddings for gay couples.
Same-sex marriage already is legal in four European Union countries - Netherlands, Belgium Norway and Spain.
Elsewhere in the EU, the UK affords gay couples all of the rights and obligations of marriage but without the name. Several other EU countries such as Germany and France allow same-sex couples limited rights.
Outside Europe, gay marriage is legal in Canada and South Africa. Gays and lesbians can marry in two US states - Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Source: 365gay Newscenter Staff