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Church of Norway bishops vote to allow same sex marriages

Despite unanimous approval from leaders the proposal will still have to be approved by the Church's Synod which will meet in April.

The Synod rejected a similar measure last year but it's make up has since changed and analysts suggest a more liberal presence means the proposal is likely to be approved.

Bishops met for several days before voting in favour of a motion allowing gay couples to marry in religious ceremonies.

They've now called for the Synod to accept the motion too.

Helga Haugland Byfuglien, head of the bishop's conference, told agency NTB: "I am extremely satisfied that we succeeded in coming together over this measure".

It's believed not all bishops had confidence in the motion but in the end none of them voted against it.

The motion allows churches to 'opt out' from gay marriages and gives vicars the right to refuse a wedding for a gay couple.

If approved by the Synod the first gay marriage could take place by 2017.

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