Europe

Norway's state church votes in favor of same-sex marriages

Norwegian Church Council leader Kristin Gunleiksrud Raaum, centre, in red, and Chairman of the Oslo diocesan council Gard Sandaker-Nielsen, centre, right,  vote to allow homosexuals to be married within the Norwegian Church. The Church of Norway voted on Monday April 11, 2016 in Trondheim, Norway to approve new marriage ceremony rules that will allow homosexuals to be married within the church. (Ole Martin Wold / NTB scanpix via AP)   NORWAY OUT

Norwegian Church Council leader Kristin Gunleiksrud Raaum, centre, in red, and Chairman of the Oslo diocesan council Gard Sandaker-Nielsen, centre, right, vote to allow homosexuals to be married within the Norwegian Church. The Church of Norway voted on Monday April 11, 2016 in Trondheim, Norway to approve new marriage ceremony rules that will allow homosexuals to be married within the church. (Ole Martin Wold / NTB scanpix via AP) NORWAY OUT  (The Associated Press)

In a major ecclesiastical turnaround, a large majority of Norway's church synod have voted in favor of same-sex marriages.

Of 115 synod members present at the Church of Norway's council, 88 voted in favor, meaning that the state church will adopt provisions for marrying same-sex couples at its meeting next year and make it part of its official liturgy.

Monday's decision, however, allows clergy members who disapprove of same-sex marriages to refrain from performing such ceremonies.

The church described the vote as "a historic decision that marks a shift in the church's teaching on marriage."

The Evangelical-Lutheran Church is the Scandinavian country's largest church to which more than 70 percent of the 5.1 million people belong.