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Denmark marks 25 years since becoming the first to legally recognize gay unions

On 1 October 1989 Denmark became the first country in the world to provide legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples – taking the first step on the road to marriage equality

Denmark marks 25 years since becoming the first to legally recognize gay unions

Denmark is celebrating its Silver Anniversary of legally recognizing same-sex couples with civil partnerships this week – marking 25 years since it became the first country in the world to provide legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

On 1 October, 1989 the first 11 Danish same-sex couples were wed through civil ceremonies at the Copenhagen Town Hall by the then deputy mayor of the city Tom Ahlberg.

The same civil ceremony that was used for heterosexual couples to marry was used but with the word ‘marriage’ replaced with ‘registered partnership.’

Following the ceremonies three of the couples were carried to a press conference in horse drawn carriages to the headquarters of LGBTI rights group Landsforeningen for Bøsser og Lesbiske (LBL) where they were presented to the media as the first same-sex couples in the world to be joined in a legal union.

Denmark’s move to recognize same-sex couples’ relationships inspired many LGBTI activists around the world to hope that one day their countries would do the same and there are now 19 countries where same-sex couples can marry and 9 which still have civil partnerships.

Celebrations are being held in Copenhagen this week to mark that anniversary, and a special exhibition was opened yesterday at the city’s town hall by Copenhagen‘s Mayor Frank Jensen and Crown Princess Mary.

Denmark is among the most progressive countries in the world on LGBTI issues, with it first legalizing homosexuality in 1933 and equalizing its age of consent in 1977.

It’s LGBT Denmark rights group, formerly known as LBL and originally foundedin 1948 under the name ‘Circle of 1948’, was among the first LGBTI rights groups to form anywhere in the world.

Denmark allowed full adoption rights for same-sex couples in 2010 and finally recognized same-sex couples with equal marriage in 2012, becoming the 11th country to do so.

And unlike in many countries, Danish same-sex couples can have their weddings in churches, though individual Church of Denmark ministers may refuse to marry them. In that case a replacement minister will be found.

Ivan Larsen, an ordained minister in Church of Denmark, and Ove Carlsen, a psychologist, were one of the first couples to marry in 1989 and they told the BBC about the transformation in Danish society since then.

‘I’ve always talked about Ivan as my husband and I think its strange to call him my partner,’ Carlsen said.

‘Denmark has had this partnership law now, marriage for same-sex people, for 25 years,’ Carlsen said.

‘It has been [made] normal. In fact I sometimes think it has [become] so normal that it isn’t worth discussing.’

GSN recently profiled 11 ways to live like a Dane when in Copenhagen.


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