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Under the terms of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, religious organisations will have to "opt in" to offering weddings, with the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned in law from doing so.

There will also be a review of whether groups such as the humanists will be allowed to carry out marriages, while ministers said they were prepared to look at eliminating any difference in the treatment of gay couples when it came to pension schemes.

During the Commons debate, Equalities Minister Maria Miller said the passing of the bill was "clear affirmation" that "respect for each and every person is paramount, regardless of age, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexuality", she added.

But Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth, one of the bill's opponents, said it was "astonishing that a bill for which there is absolutely no mandate, against which a majority of Conservatives voted, has been bulldozed through both Houses".

He added: "I think the government should think very carefully in future if they want the support of these benches. Offending large swathes of the Conservative Party is not a good way of going about it."

But Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain, said: "It's wonderful to see same-sex marriage achieve legal recognition. Quakers see the light of God in everyone so we respect the inherent worth of each individual and each loving relationship."

Is it a scandal that Copenhagen doesn't have a gay hotel or hostel? In some cities in the world it might be necessary, but here? Not really.. Copenhagen is so gay-friendly, that we say that all accommodation places automatically have a gay-friendly amenity. So you can choose to stay wherever you want in our city and still be yourself!

Summer is nearly over - if you would like a pro tip of where to cruise (and you should know what kind of cruising we think of) go to the Copenhagen LGBT guide for insider's tips:…/docs/cglcc_2016-17_gay_guide_-_finalweb… Psssst. Ørstedsparken (see photo) is just one of the places :-) Photo credit: Ty Stange

What a week in Copenhagen! Anyone else beside us, who are overwhelmed? We feel the pride in the whole body. We are happy to be gay. We are happy and proud of our community. And we are happy for the support from people around us. # loveislove Photo credit: Ty Stange

During Copenhagen Pride, the city is packed with spirit from both official and unofficial events - sooooo great! You can see the full programme right here:…/…/programme-2016-english-web .
And if you just want to soak the spirit of happy people in to your veins, you can always go to the Pride Square right next to the Town Hall.

Copenhagen Pride is really going on strong! Did you see our post of the business building in Copenhagen which is totally decorated with the gay flag? Never ever have a post got some many reactions! You can find it on our profile right now.

It is so great to see how people come together these days - especially how the all the (mostly arranged) debates consists of a mix of heterosexuals and homosexuals - and of people who doesn't support gays as well. We believe that it is through these debates and events we can evolve, develop and increase the support of gay people.

Copenhagen Pride is upon us! This year's Pride is going to be bigger than ever, and the full programme is finally available. See it right here:…/…/programme-2016-english-web

Every year, around that time when weather is hottest in Copenhagen, Bøssehuset is having their hottest party! A massive amount of people will be there and some say it is the party of the year? Curious? We are!

A growing number of governments around the world are considering whether to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages. Nearly two dozen countries currently have national laws allowing gays and lesbians to marry, mostly in Europe and the Americas. In Mexico, some jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to wed, while others do not.

On May 22, 2015, Catholic-majority Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular referendum. More than six-in-ten Irish voters (62%) voted “yes” to amend the Constitution of Ireland to say that “marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

While some Catholic Church leaders opposed the change, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin wrote a commentary in The Irish Times newspaper before the referendum, saying that he would not tell people how to vote and that he had “no wish to stuff my religious views down other people’s throats.” Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny supported the “yes” campaign.

Same-sex marriage will become legal in Finland starting in 2017. The Finnish Parliament approved a bill legalizing same-sex unions in November 2014, and Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, signed the measure into law in February 2015. The bill started out as a “citizens’ initiative” – a public petition with a reported 167,000 signatures.

On June 18, Luxembourg’s parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, overwhelmingly approved legislation that will allow gay and lesbian couples to wed and to adopt children. The bill, which took effect in early 2015, was championed by the country’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, who is openly gay.

The changes are part of a larger rewrite of the tiny country’s marriage laws – the first major overhaul since 1804. In addition to allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt, the legislation sets the legal age of marriage at 18 and eliminates the existing requirement that couples who want to marry must first submit to a medical exam.

On Feb. 4, 2014, the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. In addition to allowing same-sex couples to wed, the measure gives churches and other religious groups the option of deciding whether or not they want to conduct such marriages. The two largest churches in Scotland – the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church – oppose same-sex marriage and lobbied against the bill.

On July 17, 2013, Queen Elizabeth II gave her “royal assent” to a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in England and Wales. The day before, the measure had won final passage in the British Parliament after months of debate. The law only applies to England and Wales because Scotland and Northern Ireland are semi-autonomous and have separate legislative bodies to decide many domestic issues, including the definition of marriage. While Northern Ireland’s legislature in April 2014 voted down a measure that would have legalized same-sex marriage, the Scottish Parliament passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in February 2014.

After months of saving up and planning, I finally embarked on the biggest trip of my life: a long journey across the United States of America. America is an incredibly fascinating country, filled with both grand vistas, heartbreaking poverty, inspiring success stories, and dynamic cities. During my travels, I visited both huge metropolises like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York City, as well as natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls.

The first stop our trip was New York City. After we landed at JFK, we went straight to the hotel, tired after a bumpy transatlantic flight. We spent our second day in NY visiting Central Park, an absolutely awe-inspiring green oasis, replete with life and activities, including a zoo and a skating rink. We spent the rest of our time in New York visiting staples such as the Empire State Building, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the High Line, as well as some less well-known stores and galleries. In addition to visiting NYC, we also went to Niagara Falls, one of the most incredible natural wonders of the world.

After an incredible couple of weeks in New York, we headed to Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world. While Vegas is a must-see, our luck (or lack thereof) at the tables limited out enjoyment of the city. However, we still managed to have a lot of fun. One of the most amazing experiences was visiting the Bellagio, with its over-the- top decoration and opulent fountain. It is simply a place out of this world, almost to the point of being too much.

Another must-see in Vegas is the 350 meters tall Stratosphere tower, hotel and casino. The tower hosts a number of insane rides, such as the world’s longest bungee jump, a drop tower on the roof of the tower, a giant mechanical arm which extends riders over the edge of the tower. As true adrenaline junkies, we tried all the crazy attractions, which we can wholeheartedly recommend, albeit only to the most adventurous. Our trip to Las Vegas also included a visit to the amazing Grand Canyon. The scope Grand Canyon is beyond anything I have ever seen before or since, and is something everyone should experience before they die.

Copenhagen, Denmark continues to top various lists of the most LGBT-friendly places in the world, thanks to its culture of inclusiveness and tolerance, which is on full display at the annual Copenhagen Pride festival. The event takes place at the City Hall Square, which is renamed Pride Square for the duration for of the event.

Copenhagen Pride began in 1996 when the city was selected as the European Capital of Culture and as a result, hosted the Europride event that year. Europride is an event which is hosted in different European cities that celebrates LGBT pride– with various events throughout the city being organized, culminating in a huge parade and an AIDS memorial vigil.

Copenhagen has long been an LGBT-friendly city. Besides hosting Europride in 1996 and Copenhagen Pride every summer, the city hosted the World Outgames in 2009. The World Outgames is a sporting event, similar in style to the Olympics, that brings together people from all walks of life. The event takes place every four years. 

Copenhagen repeatedly been listed as one of the most gay friendly city on many lists. In 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to recognise same-sex partnerships. In 2009, registered gay couples received the right to adopt children, and just a few years down the line, in 2012 gay couples could be married at City Hall and in a church.

But Kurtz's smoking gun is really just smoke and mirrors. Reports of the death of marriage in Scandinavia are greatly exaggerated; giving gay couples the right to wed did not lead to massive matrimonial flight by heterosexuals.

Currently there are nine European countries that give marital rights to gay couples. In Scandinavia, Denmark (1989), Norway (1993), Sweden (1994), and Iceland (1996) pioneered a separate-and-not-quite-equal status for same-sex couples called "registered partnership." (When they register, same-sex couples receive most of the financial and legal rights of marriage, other than the right to marry in a state church and the right to adopt children.) Since 2001, the Netherlands and Belgium have opened marriage to same-sex couples.

Despite what Kurtz might say, the apocalypse has not yet arrived. In fact, the numbers show that heterosexual marriage looks pretty healthy in Scandinavia, where same-sex couples have had rights the longest. In Denmark, for example, the marriage rate had been declining for a half-century but turned around in the early 1980s. After the 1989 passage of the registered-partner law, the marriage rate continued to climb; Danish heterosexual marriage rates are now the highest they've been since the early 1970's. And the most recent marriage rates in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland are all higher than the rates for the years before the partner laws were passed. Furthermore, in the 1990s, divorce rates in Scandinavia remained basically unchanged.

Of course, the good news about marriage rates is bad news for Kurtz's sky-is-falling argument. So, Kurtz instead focuses on the increasing tendency in Europe for couples to have children out of wedlock. Gay marriage, he argues, is a wedge that is prying marriage and parenthood apart.

The main evidence Kurtz points to is the increase in cohabitation rates among unmarried heterosexual couples and the increase in births to unmarried mothers. Roughly half of all children in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are now born to unmarried parents. In Denmark, the number of cohabiting couples with children rose by 25 percent in the 1990s. From these statistics Kurtz concludes that " … married parenthood has become a minority phenomenon," and—surprise—he blames gay marriage.

But Kurtz's interpretation of the statistics is incorrect. Parenthood within marriage is still the norm—most cohabitating couples marry after they start having children. In Sweden, for instance, 70 percent of cohabiters wed after their first child is born. Indeed, in Scandinavia the majority of families with children are headed by married parents. In Denmark and Norway, roughly four out of five couples with children were married in 2003. In the Netherlands, a bit south of Scandinavia, 90 percent of heterosexual couples with kids are married.

Kurtz is also mistaken in maintaining that gay unions are to blame for changes in heterosexual marriage patterns. In truth, the shift occurred in the opposite direction: Changes in heterosexual marriage made the recognition of gay couples more likely. In my own recent study conducted in the Netherlands, I found that the nine countries with partnership laws had higher rates of unmarried cohabitation than other European and North American countries before passage of the partner-registration laws. In other words, high cohabitation rates came first, gay partnership laws followed.

A subtler version of Kurtz's argument states that the advent of registered partnership caused an increase in cohabitation rates and children born outside of marriage (nonmarital births). If that were true, then we would expect to see two patterns: Cohabitation rates and the nonmarital birth rate would rise more quickly within a country after it passed partner registration laws; and the rise in the nonmarital birth rate would be greater in countries that had such laws than in countries that do not recognize same-sex partnerships.

You’ve made it to the official travel site for Denmark, Scandinavia’s greatest little kingdom! Here you’ll find everything you need to plan, book and experience the perfect holiday in Denmark. Wondering how to get to Denmark? We’ve got Denmark maps and transport advice. Looking for things to do in Copenhagen or Denmark facts? We’ve got all that too!

(Reuters) - On a frosty December night last year, about two dozen guests slipped into the Alta Club, a century-old private retreat a block away from the temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that dominates Salt Lake City.

Two men, who didn't know each other, were the reason for the dinner: church lobbyist Bill Evans and gay rights leader Rick Jacobs. Evans was a point man for the church's successful effort to pass California's gay marriage ban, known as Prop 8, in 2008. Jacobs, leader of Courage Campaign, produced a 2008 commercial against the ban showing Mormon missionaries ransacking the home of a lesbian couple.

Politics was not on the agenda - just getting to know each other. "The two hit it off," said host Greg Prince, a medical researcher and church member who had come to know both men. He noted that less than a month before the dinner, the church had launched a website with a major change in its view of gays: the site said homosexuality was not a choice.

Shifting attitudes among some conservatives and many businesses is altering the landscape around gay marriage, long considered a uniquely liberal and political issue, at one of its most crucial junctures - its review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Some jurists look to societal changes when interpreting the law, and scholars speculate that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the possible swing vote in the divided court, will be pondering increased public support for gay marriage.

Republicans like Senator Rob Portman of Ohio are supporting gay marriage and publicly conflicting with party leaders, such as House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner. Portman this month said he had switched position on the issue after his son told him he was gay.

Corporations, including Goldman Sachs, whose chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, has campaigned in support of gay marriage, have joined the battle, arguing in briefs to the court that federal policy of not allowing gay marriage is bad for business.

The issue is far from settled, however. Gay marriage opponents have been written off as dinosaurs before, including in California, and most states ban same-sex weddings. But the momentum has been moving towards the proponents of gay marriage.

When the New York State Senate voted to approve gay marriage in 2011, four Republicans joined Democrats. Republicans led by hedge fund manager Paul Singer, whose son is gay, gave the four financial and moral support, and in the 2012 national race, Singer led a political action committee that spent more than $2 million to help pro-gay marriage Republicans.

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The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN's founding Charter , making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the Organization.  In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights brought human rights into the realm of international law.  Since then, the Organization has diligently protected human rights through legal instruments and on-the-ground activities.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has lead responsibility in the UN system for the promotion and protection of human rights .  The office supports the human rights components of peacekeeping missions in several countries, and has many country and regional offices and centres. The High Commissioner for Human Rights regularly comments on human rights situations in the world and has the authority to investigate situations and issue reports on them. 

The special procedures of the Human Rights Council are prominent, independent experts working on a voluntary basis, who examine, monitor, publicly report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective.

The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide  acts as a catalyst to raise awareness of the causes and dynamics of genocide, to alert relevant actors where there is a risk of genocide, and to advocate and mobilize for appropriate action; the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect leads the conceptual, political, institutional and operational development of the Responsibility to Protect.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was the first legal document protecting universal human rights.   Together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights , the three instruments form the so-called International Bill of Human Rights. A series of international human rights treaties and other instruments adopted since 1945 have expanded the body of international human rights law .

The UN Security Council , at times, deals with grave human rights violations, often in conflict areas.  The UN Charter gives the Security Council the authority to investigate and mediate, dispatch a mission, appoint special envoys, or request the Secretary-General to use his good offices.  The Security Council may issue a ceasefire directive, dispatch military observers or a peacekeeping force.  If this does not work, the Security Council can opt for enforcement measures, such as economic sanctions, arms embargos, financial penalties and restrictions, travel bans, the severance of diplomatic relations, a blockade, or even collective military action.

The General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) examines a range of issues, including human rights questions.  The Committee also discusses questions relating to the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the right to self-determination.  The Committee also addresses important social development questions.

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of women.  UN Women , established in 2010, serves as its Secretariat.

Around the world are countless breathtaking photo-ops that get swamped with tourist cameras, including mine–the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, the Christus statue above Rio, China’s Great Wall, and so on. Then again, there are also countless small moments where unexpected images of beauty suddenly appear at unforeseen times and places. Sometimes they are intimate and quiet and whisper a message of subtle appeal. Here is one such still-life moment from Helsingor, Denmark that I especially like. It’s stillness, its stark yet colorful ‘sound’, it speaks of peace and ground, mankind and nature… Another view of the same place: Visit Denmark website

The Danish Monarchy is the constitutional monarchy of Denmark and its overseas territories. It is considered to be the oldest monarchy in the world. The present Queen is Margrethe II. As a constitutional monarch, the Queen is limited to non-partisan, ceremonial functions. The ultimate executive authority over the government of Denmark is still by and through the monarch’s royal reserve powers; in practice these powers are only used according to laws enacted in Parliament or within the constraints of convention. We encountered the Queen twice during our 3-week stay in Copenhagen in winter 2020-11. Once after a formal ceremony at the parliament and again at the ballet a few nights later. See photo gallery.  

Copenhagen welcomed OutGames athletes and supporters to the city and to the official opening ceremony on July 25, 2009. The colorful event was held in the City Hall Square in the center of the city. There were about 6,000 athletes from more than 80 countries who paraded across the specially built stage and then watched the welcoming speeches by the Lord Mayor and OutGames officials. Following the talks the crowds were entertained by music, dance, acrobatic performances and a huge party. Read the Gay Denmark Story

Following the week of OutGames Sports and Human Rights Conference, Copenhagen Gay Pride mounted its colorful parade which terminated at City Hall. A concert stage presented music for hours as celebrants gathered in the final event of this hectic, festive and joyful week. Read the Gay Denmark Story

For a cheerful and energetic week in July/August 2009 Copenhagen was host to the 2nd edition of the World OutGames and OutGames Human Rights Conference. The Danish Prime Minister and the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen welcomed thousands of athletes and activists to the city. In the streets and in the press these special events were given plenty of attention. Numerous gay venues welcomed the visitors with parties. Read the Gay Denmark Story

The World OutGames 2009 in Copenhagen mounted two major events: sports competitions and a human rights conference. (See OutGames sports photo gallery.) The human rights conference drew several hundred activists, diplomats, United Nations officials, legal experts, political leaders, journalists, filmmakers and artists for three days of plenary sessions and workshops covering more than one hundred topics. (GlobalGayz presented a seminar on Culture and Media). Read the Gay Denmark Story

Our aim is to work for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people’s political, social, cultural and workplace equality at every level of society. We seek to work against discrimination and to function as a dedicated lobby for the purpose of influencing lawmakers, for example in areas such as marriage, adoption, the artificial insemination of lesbians, and rights for transpersons.

The overview below is based on the article in Danish, “LBL and other Danish gay movements”, which Inge-Lise Paulsen and Vibeke Nissen wrote to Lambda Nordica in 2000. It has since been supplemented and regularly updated by the LGBT Library.

Homosexuality was a crime in Denmark until 1930, at least for men. Danish law from 1683 stated: “Relations against nature is punishable by execution”. By a law of 1866, the death penalty was replaced by a sentence of prison labour. It wasn’t until 1933 that sex between adult men (aged over 18/21) was de-criminalised.

Kredsen af 1948 (The Circle of 1948) is established in the city of Aalborg (north Jutland). The idea takes shape on Skt.Hans Aften (St.John’s Eve – a mid-summer festival celebrated throughout Denmark), so June 23 rd , 1948, is regarded as the date of foundation. The man behind the idea and the driving force of the association is Axel Lundahl Madsen (later Axel Axgil). The association is for both homosexuals and bisexuals from the start, and the objectives are described as: Through personal connections and correspondence to create a free association of people who feel solidarity with other people with the same approach to homosexual and bisexual problems, as well as giving support and help with any difficulties.

Following World War II, the focus is on democratic values and rights, and homosexuals begin to organise themselves. Unlike other groups that were persecuted during the War, homosexuals are not included in the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

The pink-triangle, that has been adopted as a symbol by homosexual organisations worldwide,  had been worn on the clothing of male homosexuals in concentration camps, while lesbians wore a black triangle.

Forbundet af 1948 publishes the first issue of the periodical Vennen (The Friend). The publication serves as a membership magazine from 1949 until 1952. The editor is Helmer Fogedgaard located in Rudkøbing and using the pseudonym Homophilos. Vennen continues until 1970, and the last editor for many years is Martin Elmer.

The world’s first successful gender-modification operation is undertaken at Rigshospitalet (The State Hospital, in Copenhagen) with wide press coverage. The person operated on is 26 year-old Christine Jorgensen, a former American soldier.

Labor Market situation of selected ethnic minorities and total population in Denmark Country of Origin Labor Market Participation % Unemployment % Hourly wage (DKK) Total Population 76 6 278 Turkey 62 18 171 Iraq 38 27 138 Bosnia-Herzegovina 57 13 177 Other non-western 56 28 165 3) Source: (Ministry for Refugees, Immigrants and Integration Affairs, Facts and Figures, July 2009, 13 jQuery("#footnote_plugin_tooltip_3").tooltip({ tip: "#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_3", tipClass: "footnote_tooltip", effect: "fade", fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: "top right", relative: true, offset: [10, 10] }); )

Research by state employment agencies and Danish think tanks provides very little information about Muslims in the labor market, because ethnicity is often explicitly kept out of surveys conducted by the national bureau of statistics (Danmarks Statistik), state-subsidized insurance associations, and labor union (OSI Report 2007, 19).

A review of the labor-market integration of ethnic minorities in Europe carried out by the Institute for the Study of Labor, collected labor-market data on minority groups in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK. These data show that the labor-market participation rate among groups that are predominantly Muslim (Turks, Moroccans, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis) is lower than that of the majority population. The review concludes that ethnic minorities “typically have significantly higher unemployment rates, lower labor income, and they are less likely to find and keep their jobs than the majority population” (OSI Report 2009, 109).

When it comes to hiring, it was found that chances of an applicant being called for a job interview varied by a ratio of 1:32 depending on whether the applicant used a typically Danish name or one suggesting a Turkish, Arab or Pakistani background (OSI Report 2009, 120). In the Eurobarometer Survey 26 per cent of respondents believed that an expression of a religious belief would put a job applicant at a disadvantage. The results varied across different EU states, with the visible expression of religious identity cited as most likely to disadvantage a job applicant in Denmark (65 per cent) (OSI Report 2009, 121).

Comprehensive data sets concerning the education outcomes and background characteristics of immigrant students are scarce in Denmark. However, OECD has collected relevant data in the OECD Reviews of Migrant Education.

Important steps have been taken in Denmark in recent years to adapt and update teacher training for diversity. However, the OECD finds take-up of such training remains insufficient and uneven. To enhance the capacity of school level professionals to cater to the needs of all their native and immigrant students, OECD finds it essential to professionalize school leadership through better training, improve the pedagogical skills of teachers necessary to meet the needs of heterogeneous classrooms, and recruit high quality teachers including those from immigrant backgrounds (Nusche, Wurzburg & Naughton 2010, 7).

In Denmark, two-thirds of the ethnic-minority populations live in municipalities that account for only 10 per cent of the general population (OSI Report 2009, 134). 54 % of immigrants from non-western countries live in public housing in comparison only 14 % of native Danes live in public housing. Over 80 % of immigrants from Somalia and Pakistan live in public housing.

In Denmark, 27 per cent of minority respondents in one survey said that they faced discrimination in housing. These complaints centered on being overlooked in housing allocations, especially in private housing corporation waiting lists. Discrimination in housing was also highlighted in the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) report on Denmark (OSI Report 2009, 143).

The Danish Parliament changed laws in 1973 covering inheritance and tax laws to give same-sex couples equality with married couples. On 1989-OCT-1, gays and lesbians a new law became effective that allowed them to register their partnerships. As of late 1995, there were 1449 gay and 634 lesbian partnerships registered. Their subsequent divorce rate is slightly lower than for married couples.

The Bishops of the Church of Denmark established a commission of bishops to study the biblical and theological context of homosexual partnerships, and to recommend whether the church should formally bless these partnerships with a ritual or other means.

In 1997-JAN, about 100 conservative pastors and leaders from the right wing of the Danish Church met to create an alternative commission to fight recognition within the church of gay and lesbian partnerships. Pastor Flemming Baatz Kristensen, a member of the new commission, said: " In case the church accepts registered partnership it is sending out a signal meaning that it legitimates two kinds of married life, and then the church has deserted its foundation ."

By an unanimous vote on 1997-OCT-27, the Bishops of the State Lutheran Church approved of the blessing of homosexual partnerships within their congregations. Gay and lesbian couples throughout Denmark can now have their marriages sealed as part of the regular church service. The bishops of Aarhus and of Roskilde promoted a new church ritual that would allow gays and lesbians to contract their partnership in church. But the proposal was voted down by the rest of the bishops. There has been considerable opposition to a gay/lesbian church ritual by parish councils and pastors; they feel that it would place homosexual partnership on a par with heterosexual marriage.

Historical remains in Denmark indicate that people first lived on this fertile land beginning around 12,000 BC. Discoveries from the Nordic Bronze Age (1800 - 600 BC) include elaborate burial mounds complete with musical instruments, crude weapons and sacrificial markings.

During Rome's long sway over Western Europe, Roman provinces maintained trade routes with tribes in Denmark. One century after the Roman Empire collapsed upon itself in 410 AD, the first Danes are thought to have arrived, moving south into Denmark from Sweden.

Beginning in the middle of the 8th century, the Danes were known as Vikings. These rugged, sea-going adventurers ( with their brothers from Norway and Sweden ) raided, and then colonized many areas of Europe. 

In and around 965, Harald Bluetooth, son of the Viking King, Gorm the Old, united, then Christianized the Danes. In the early 11th century, Viking King, Canute the Great, rose to power and his forces conquered all of Denmark and Norway, and most of England.

In the early 14th century, the once-powerful realm of Danish Kings began to shrink, and in 1397, Denmark entered into a union ( of sorts ) with Norway and Sweden. This Kalmar Union of mostly self-serving dynasties dissolved in 1524, and war was on the horizon.

In the early 16th century, after Martin Luther nailed his ( 95 Theses ) to the door of the Wittenberg Castle's Church, the Reformation began. Civil War and religious persecution swept Western Europe, and Denmark and Norway, now joined in union, were not immune.

In Denmark, the mayhem finally ended in 1536, and Denmark converted to Lutheranism. The Catholic Church was banished and beginning with King Christian IV in 1611, almost two centuries of war with Sweden followed.

Early military successes forced Sweden to pay ransom to Denmark, but no territorial changes occurred. Then, during the Thirty Year's War, the King and his forces suffered a devastating defeat and Jutland was occupied.

And Stockholm? Well, you might walk right by its equivalent and never notice. Malmskillnadsgatan is a commercial area, the address of several banks. In its heyday, dozens of girls used to ply their trade here. Now, you can find only three or four women who work the street.

In 1995, Sweden passed a tough bill that cracked down on prostitution. What made this law different, however, was who would be held responsible for the crime of prostitution. It's not illegal to sell sex. It is, however, illegal to buy sex.

The law was enacted as part of Sweden's push for gender equality. From a Swedish legal point of view, any woman selling sex has been forced to do so, either by circumstance or coercion. Anyone caught buying sex faces hefty fines, an embarrassingly public police notification and possible time in prison, with a maximum four-year sentence. So far no one arrested has served time.

"They're called a "cod," a fish," says Lise Tamm, a Swedish prosecutor of organized crime. "It's the same word as a loser, or [someone who] gets called by the police, or runs out of gas in his car. You're a loser if you buy sex in Sweden.

Kajsa Wahlberg, Sweden's National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, has undertaken annual assessments on the problem since the law was enacted. She recalls attending international meetings back in 1998 when Sweden was ridiculed for its approach. "I mean, I was told you can't do that. It's impossible," she recalls. "People could not even get it into their minds that it would have any effect on trafficking. But now I get the impression that people have stopped laughing and actually are looking seriously into what can we do."

Police say it's working; that customers don't want to risk punishment and that intelligence indicated pimps and traffickers quickly realized it was not worth bringing women into Sweden. Simply, there is not enough money to be made and the risk is too high.

But trafficking still exists and women still sell sex in Sweden. One young woman told CNN she was promised a cleaning job in Sweden - but within hours of arriving in the country she was locked in an apartment, raped and beaten and had her passport taken away from her.

While street prostitution has dropped dramatically, selling sex over the internet is still a thriving industry. But Stockholm police estimate that there are only about 200 prostitutes now working in a capital city of more than 2 million people.





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