The government’s proposal to legalise gay marriage has been met with fierce objection from both members of the Church of Denmark and politicians.
At a public hearing on Monday in parliament held by the Social Affairs Committee, the former church minister, Birthe Rønn Hornbech (Venstre) made her view against the law clearly heard.
"Aside from slugs and a few other species, the living world is made up of 'him' and 'her' and that is why the world is able to keep on going,” she said.
The statement drew widespread criticism. The openly gay culture minister, Uffe Elbæk (Radikale) posted the quote on his Facebook wall, followed by: “Try reading that quote again.”
Klaus Bondam, head of the the Danish Cultural Institute, wrote: ”Thanks for reminding us of the frightening homophobia that is still present beneath the surface of Denmark’s rosy image.”
Neither Elbæk nor Hornbech, who served as both the integration and church minister from 2007-11, responded to tabloid B.T.’s request to comment further, though Rønn’s statement is an indication that the government’s plan to legalise gay marriage on June 15 is not supported by all.
At the public hearing on Monday, it became clear that the Church of Denmark remained deeply split over whether to allow gay marriage.
“Our understanding of relationships and sexuality in 2012 is different than what was understood by nomads in Palestine 2,000 years ago, or even during the time of Luther,” Roskilde’s bishop, Peter Fischer-Møller, said during the hearing.
But Helsingør's bishop, Lise-Lotte Rebel, disagreed.
“Parliament is forcing the Church of Denmark to adopt an understanding of marriage that is contrary to its widespread understanding in the church,” Rebel said. “Parliament should not make the decisions on which theological understanding of marriage is the correct one.”
According to Information newspaper, homosexual couples will not necessarily be able to get married in churches even if the government passes the law to legalise gay marriage, as no ritual currently exists that can legally bind a gay couple in marriage during a church ceremony.
Three out of Denmark’s 13 bishops have agreed to create such a ritual however.
The church’s attitude toward homosexuals was also highlighted in another case this week when a priest in Aalborg apologized after refusing to bury a 74-year-old woman who had a homosexual relationship with another woman for thirty years before her death two weeks ago.