Following a parliamentary vote, which took place on Wednesday afternoon, gay and lesbian couples will now be allowed to marry in civil ceremonies as of the 1st of May, making Sweden the fifth European country to legalise same-sex marriages.

During the free vote in Sweden’s parliament, 261 MPs voted for the reform, while 22 voted no and 16 abstained.

The only party to oppose the new legislation was the Christian Democrat Party. The party wished to maintain “a several hundred-year-old concept” of marriage.

Same-sex unions have been recognised in Sweden since 1994, however the old law did not allow these to be considered “marriages”.

Couples wishing to make their “registered partnerships” official will have to apply to the relevant authorities to have it amended, or else have a new ceremony after the law has come into effect.

The choice to recognise these marriages or marry same-sex couples via religious ceremonies has been left up to the individual churches.

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