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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 14:01 GMT
Norwegian minister 'marries' gay partner
Per-Kristian Foss (left) and his partner Jan Erik Knarbakk in Oslo
The pair have been openly living together in Oslo
The Norwegian Finance Minister, Per-Kristian Foss, has 'married' his long-time male companion.

He is believed to be the world's first high-ranking minister to formalise a gay relationship.


Yes, we entered a partnership in Stockholm on 4 January

Per-Kristian Foss
Mr Foss, 52, confirmed on Tuesday that he married his partner, Jan Erik Knarrbakk, in a ceremony in Sweden.

"Yes, we entered a partnership at the [Norwegian] Embassy in Stockholm on 4 January. But beyond that it is a private matter," he told the financial daily Dagens Naeringsliv.

Mr Knarbakk is a top manager at the Norwegian media group Schibsted, and the pair have already been described as being among Norway's most powerful couples.

Tolerant

Mr Foss has been openly gay, and the pair has long been living together in Oslo's fashionable Frogner district.

His homosexuality was not an issue when he was given one of the top jobs in the country.

Norway became the second country in the world, after Denmark, to allow gay and lesbian partnerships in 1993. About 100 couples register their relationships in the capital, Oslo, alone.

Norwegians have a reputation of being tolerant to homosexuals and respectful towards the private life of public figures, and the local media only briefly mentioned the wedding.

However, the 1993 law is still opposed by the Christian People's Party of the Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, and bishops in the state Lutheran church.

See also:

11 Jan 02 | UK Politics
'Gay marriage' bill launched
02 Aug 01 | Europe
Germany split over gay marriage
12 Sep 00 | Europe
Dutch legalise gay marriage
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