As Swedish priests are not obliged to marry a couple if they are morally opposed, Lars Gårdsfeldt is using that right to fight against church bigotry.
The roles have reversed in Sweden where a 56-year-old priest is taking a stand against the discrimination of same-sex couples in the church by refusing to marry opposite-sex couples.
All priests in the Church of Sweden can turn away couples if they have objections to the union. The right has through history primarily been used to deny same-sex couples, although queer couples have been able to legally get married in the church since 2009.
“I want to show the absurdity, the theological and ethically reprehensibility, of denying marriage to two consenting adults”, Lars Gårdsfeldt told P4 Göteborg.
The protest comes ahead of the church election in Sweden on Sunday, where a debate has flared up over the question of whether it should be possible for newly ordained priests to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
Apart from Gårdsfeldt, several Swedish parties also want to overturn the priests’ right to turn down same-sex to ensure that discrimination does not take place.
Swedish Bishops Should Strike Down Harder on Homophobia
Gårdfeldt has publicly spoken out against the lack of LGBTQAI+ rights in the Swedish churches before by pointing out that the responsibility of fixing this lies with the bishops.
In an interview with P4 Göteborg he calls for the protection of rights of queer people by refusing queerphobic priests to be part of the Swedish churches.
“We should not ordain new priests who pass on the idea that homosexuals are inferior people. I cannot understand why it is so important for the bishops and the archbishop to continue to ordain anti-gay priests.”, he said to P4 Göteborg.
Out of Sweden’s 10 million inhabitants, around 5.8 million are members of the Church of Sweden, making it the countries’ largest religious body.
Gårdfeldt himself went to Canada to legally marry in a church with his partner in 2006, as at that time, same-sex marriage was not legal in Sweden.