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Thousands Resign From Finland's Lutheran Church After Archbishop's Pro-Gay Marriage Comments

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 5.06.53 PMAlmost 7,800 Finnish citizens resigned from the Lutheran church after the government voted to legalize same sex marriage and Archbishop Kari Mäkinen immediately lent his vocal support for the vote reports The Independent. In the short amount of time between the vote passing on Friday Nov. 28 and midnight, Saturday Nov. 29, 7,800 church members completely resigned from the church primarily through a website aimed at fast tracking the process reports YLE Uutiset. A large number of commenters wrote on the site that it was Archbishop Mäkinen's comments that caused them to resign. 

The mass resignations could significantly affect the Church's revenue, as members who resign no longer have to pay taxes to the church-its main source of income. Immediately following the Friday vote that legalized same-sex marriage in Finland, which will also allow gay couples to adopt children and share the same surname, Makinen issued positive commentary about the new legislation and attempted to calm church members fears.

Said Mäkinen:

"I know how much this day means for rainbow people, their loved ones and many others. I rejoice with my whole heart for them and with them...I would like to warmly thank the proponents of the law, and all those who have taken part in the debates, regardless of position.

"There are many who are now disappointed and feel concern. This is understandable. Their experience will be respected, and the Church will listen to their fears in the future, as well as in society as a whole."

Mäkinen assured church members that their marriages are not cheapened because of the passage, and that neither the Church's faith nor human dignity will suffer. However, Finland's Christian Democrat leader Paivi Rasanin vowed that she intends on fighting against the legislation. Should the measure stand, the first gay marriages in Finland are set to occur in 2017. 


Finnish Parliament Votes 105-92 in Favor of Marriage Equality - VIDEO

Finland

In a vote of 105-92, Finland’s Parliament today approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriages, reports Yle.

Parliamentary Speaker Eero Heinäluoma tightened security ahead of the vote, calling for calm on what has been a polarising subject both inside and outside the chamber. However there were no reports of disruptive behaviour - with one Yle correspondent describing the scene as having a Carnival-like atmosphere.

The reform will force wide-ranging changes in other legislation, which will take well over a year to finalise. The law will therefore not take effect until 2016 at the earliest.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511d5c17d970c-800wi

The Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee had recommended the bill be rejected, arguing that allowing same-sex marriage might make adoption from abroad more difficult, particularly from neighboring Russia. Previously, the Legal Affairs Committee had blocked the law on two occasions.

160,000 people signed a petition in favor of the legislation and a majority of party leaders - including National Coalition Prime Minister Alexander Stubb - signaled their support for same-sex marriage.

Finland is the last of the Nordic countries to legalize same-sex marriage.

Watch "18 Nonsensical Statements by Finnish MPs Against Equal Marriage" - which includes the usual guff about how same-sex marriage discriminates against straight people - AFTER THE JUMP...

In July, the Archbishop of Finland’s Evangelical Lutheran Church apologized for the cruel treatment of gay people and other sexual minorities.

[top photo via Facebook]

Continue reading "Finnish Parliament Votes 105-92 in Favor of Marriage Equality - VIDEO" »


Tom Of Finland Stamps Break Postal Sales Records - VIDEO

Finland

Stamps designed as a tribute to Finnish homoerotic artist Touko Laaksonen - better known as Tom of Finland -  have become the country’s biggest seller ever, reports YLE UUTISET.

The stamps, which had received pre-orders from 178 different countries, went on sale on Monday and coincided with an exhibition of Tom of Finland’s drawings and letters from the 1940s to his death in 1991.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6dd3742970b-800wiPreorders have proved most popular in Finland, Sweden, the U.K., the United States and France.

Markku Penttinen, the head of development at Finland’s postal service Posti, said:

"We haven't seen this kind of interest before in Posti's history and we probably won't again soon. Our starting point was to get Touko Laaksonen's artwork in our stamps.

"We know that he was very well-known globally. Of course the subject matter is also topical and much discussed. This equation has worked better than we anticipated.”

Despite Finland being the only Nordic country in which same-sex marriage is not legal, Penttinen also suggested that the homoerotic nature of the Tom of Finland stamps would prove too much for many other countries to swallow.

The stamps’ designer Timo Berry said:

"Tom of Finland's greatest significance is that these gay figures were given their masculinity. Previously they had been portrayed as ‘girlish.’

"It's great that these sketches that had to be sold in secret can now be publicly viewed on envelopes and postcards.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service issued a Harvey Milk commemorative stamp.

Watch a report on the Tom of Finland stamps, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Tom Of Finland Stamps Break Postal Sales Records - VIDEO" »


Ten Percent Of Population March For LGBTI Equality In The Faroe Islands

Faroe islands pride 2014

Police in the Faroe Islands estimate than 10 percent of the population took part in an LGBT equality march on July 27th, reports Gay Star News.

Of the island’s 50,000 people, it is thought that 5,000 took part in Sunday’s march.

A bill providing for same-sex marriage was defeated in March even though polls have shown that public support is as high as 68%.  

The Faroe Islands, an autonomous country and a dependency of Denmark, is the only Nordic country other than Finland that does not allow same-sex marriage.


European Court Of Human Rights Rules Transgender Woman Must Divorce Before Her Gender Is Recognized

European court of human rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that married transgender people living in countries where same-sex marriage is illegal must divorce if they want their true gender to be recognized, reports Gay Star News.

The decision comes after Heli Hämäläinen, a Finnish transgender woman, was told on July 16th that she can only have her gender recognized if she divorces her wife.

The ECHR ruled that there is no obligation on states without same-sex marriage laws to marry two people of the same gender if one of the partners is transgender.

The couple, married for 18 years with one child, say that getting divorced would go against their religious convictions.

Although the ECHR recognized the difficulties of daily situations for transgender people without legal gender recognition, it said that forcing the couple to end their marriage and instead enter into a registered partnership should not be a problem.

Arja Voipio, Transgender Europe’s Co-Chair from Finland, said:

“Our thoughts are today with Heli Hämäläinen and her family. The Court decided that their rights as a family are inferior to a narrow minded opinion about what a family and marriage should look like. The verdict shows that transgender issues at stake are still not properly understood.”


Archbishop Of Finland Apologizes For 'Cruel Treatment' Of Gays

Kari Mäkinen

The Archbishop of Finland’s Evangelical Lutheran Church has apologized for the cruel treatment of gay people and other sexual minorities, reports YLE Uutiset.

Speaking at the public forum SuomiAreena, Kari Mäkinen said:

“When I think of the outside pressure and treatment that we have been guilty of displaying towards sexual minorities as a church and as a society for decades and how it still continues, I think it’s time for an apology.”

Mäkinen said he hoped his apology would encourage others to follow suit.

In June, Finland’s Parliament rejected a measure that would have legalized “gender-neutral marriage”, making it possible for same-sex couples to marry.


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