Iceland has legalised same-sex marriage in a unanimous vote, a year after electing the world’s first openly lesbian head of government.

The Icelandic parliament voted 49-0 to amend marriage laws to include unions between “man and man” and “woman and woman” alongside heterosexual unions.

With the phrase “ministers will always be free to perform marriage ceremonies, but never obliged to”, the law allows same-sex marriage ceremonies to occur in places of worship while retaining the right of less liberal churches to refuse them.

Iceland’s dominant Evangelical Lutheran Church is yet to decide whether it will allow same-sex marriages in its churches.

However, following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in regional neighbour Norway, that country’s Lutheran Church adopted a live-and-let-live approach with individual parishes allowed to decide for themselves.

The decision by the Government of Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir removes the final area in Icelandic law where citizens were treated differently on the grounds of their sexuality.

Iceland is the eighth European nation, and the ninth worldwide, to legalise same-sex marriage.

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