Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Denmark has become the 11th country in the world to give same-sex couples equal marriage rights, including the option to marry in church.

On Thursday, the country’s Parliament voted 85-24 in favour of changing the nation’s marriage laws to be gender neutral.

Gay and lesbian couples will be able to marry at a city hall or through the Church of Denmark by a priest who agrees to officiate the ceremony.

Religious institutions, however, are not obligated to conduct same-sex marriages.

“Today we allow homosexual couples to enter into marriage on equal footing as everyone else – something that Socialdemokraterne [Denmark’s Social Democratic party] has fought for many years,” Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt wrote on her Facebook page after the law was passed.

Denmark was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex unions in 1989. Those currently in civil unions will automatically be recognised as married under the new law when it comes into effect on 15 June.

Same-sex couples in Denmark have been able to jointly adopt children or their partner’s children since 2010.

Same-sex marriage is also legal in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden.

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