The Church of Sweden has decided to allow its priests to wed same-sex couples in new gender-neutral church ceremonies.

Thursday's decision was favored in a 176-62 church board vote. Eleven members abstained and two were absent.

In May, Sweden introduced a new law giving gay couples the same marriage rights as heterosexuals. The clergy has been split on the issue however, since some argued the church ceremony should be reserved for male-female couples. Same-sex church weddings will start on Nov. 1.

Sweden's archbishop Anders Wejryd said he was pleased with the decision, while the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights described it as "a big step in the right direction."