About 18 gay and lesbian couples
received a blessing from one of Copenhagen's most prominent churches
on Thursday in connection with the World
Outgames, the nine-day gay sporting competition taking place in
The mass blessing by the Church of Our
Lady (Vor Fure Kirke) was heavily promoted by organizers of the games
which center on gay activism and culture as much as sport.
Located in the heart of the city's
political and historic district, Our Lady is Denmark's National
Cathedral. In 2004, Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, married Mary
Elizabeth Donaldson in the church. To celebrate the games, the
church's six columns were each dressed in rainbow color fabrics.
About 10 priests from the church
offered the blessing to all couples, regardless of gender,
nationality or religious belief.
“It is important for the priests
involved to offer a blessing to all people, but it has a special
significance to offer it to people who come from countries in which
their governments, and perhaps most importantly their churches, do
not recognize their love,” ordained street-priest Mia Rahr
Jacobsen, a spokeswoman for Copenhagen Inclusive Churches, said in an
The gay-inclusive blessings come as
Denmark celebrates the 20th anniversary of legally
recognized civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
Jacobsen said blessings were available
in Danish, English, German or sign language at the couple's request.
About 5,000 athletes are competing in
more than 30 sporting events during the festival.