Oven Carlsen and Ivan Larsen, tying the knot in 1989
This week marked 25 years since a gay couple’s relationship was legally recognised by a country for the very first time.
On 1 October 1989, Denmark became the first nation in the world to allow gay couples to enter into registered partnerships, with almost all the same rights and responsibilities as marriage.
That day, Ivan Larsen, a Lutheran church minister, and Ove Carlsen, a psychologist, were one of the first couples to register their relationship.
They, together with 10 other gay couples, were married in the Copenhagen City Hall. Mayor Tom Ahlberg asked if they wanted to be “in partnership” with each other, to which they responded, “I do.”
The couple had met in a bar in 1986. It was love at first sight and they remain together today. Larsen told the BBC that, “When I met Ove, I know that this was the man for me.”
The two men have always seen their union as a marriage. “I’ve always talked about Ivan as my husband and I think it’s strange to call him my partner,” Carlsen said.
In June 2012, Denmark legalised full same-sex marriage rights. According to Carlsen it’s no longer a big issue.
“Denmark has had this partnership law, now marriage, for same-sex people, for 25 years. It has been normal. In fact I sometimes think it has been so normal that it isn’t worth discussing,” he said with a laugh.
Today, 18 countries around the world, including South Africa, have legalised same-sex marriage, while some regions in two nations allow for same-sex marriage. A number of other countries also offer some form of same-sex civil unions for gay couples.