Swedish priest, Lars Gårdefeldt, is taking a stand against discrimination in the Swedish church. Since 2009, same sex couples have been legally allowed to marry within the relatively-liberal Church of Sweden.
However, there is a loophole. Priests are not obliged to marry a couple if they have conscientious objections to the union. Under this rule, clergy can turn away same-sex couples if they are morally opposed.
Lars Gårdefeldt sees this as bigoted and discriminatory. In response, he is refusing to marry opposite-sex couples. He says that if some priests can turn away same-sex couples, then he, by the same reasoning, can turn away heterosexuals.
He is regretful that he needs to carry out this action, but he wants to highlight the reprehensibility of the situation. He believes the only way forward is that the loophole is removed and that the Church of Sweden does not recruit anti-gay priests in the future.
On social media, Lars Gårdefeldt has been met by positive comments and a fair amount of criticism. Some of the negative comments, unsurprisingly, are hateful and extremely offensive.
Heterosexuals who feel violated by his decision are experiencing exclusion for perhaps the first time. Maybe, if they could take a step back from their own outrage, and reflect on how that feels, they could use this experience to understand what it is like to be on the receiving end of discrimination. Maybe they can empathize with minority groups who have to navigate discrimination their entire lives.
To quote Lars Gårdefeldt, maybe they could actually realise ’the absurdity of refusing marriage to two consulting adults.’