The Registered Partnership Act

Since the first of May, in 2009, same-sex marriage has been legal in Sweden. The registered partnership act has been around since the first of January 1995, 14 years before same-sex marriages were legalized.


The registered partnership act was granted by a vote of 171-141 in June 1994, and took effect on 1 January the next year, as mentioned above. This made Sweden the third nation to recognize same-sex unions, after Norway and Denmark.

Legal distinctions 

The act was in many ways equivalent to marriage, but with some noticeable differences. One of those difference was that the persons who wanted to register partnership had to have a connection to Sweden (this changed in the year 2000). Another difference was that the partners – unconditionally – had to be at least 18 years old. For marriages, however, exceptions could be made.


The strongest distinction between a registered partnership and a marriage was that the former could not be conducted through the church authority. LGTB-activists protested and demanded laws which did not take gender into consideration, and that marriages could be conducted by the state in order to decrease the risk of discrimination. Because churches can legally marry people, this would increase the separation of church and state.


In 2004, the parliament initiated an investigation regarding gender-neutral marriages. A majority of parliament (six of seven parties) were in favor of such a reform.


However, one party opposed the idea, and even though a majority of Swedes supported same-sex marriages, there was also some resistance. The gender-neutral marriage law would take effect in 2009.

Same-sex couples in Sweden – Progress

    • 1944. Homosexual relations are no longer illegal.
    • 1988. Homosexuals were now included in the cohabitation law.
    • 1995. The Registered Partnership Act is passed.
    • 2003. Adoption was made possible for same-sex couples.
    • 2009. The gender-neutral marriage law takes effect.