Gay marriage to be introduced in Scotland

hands The Scottish government decision came after a consultation on gay marriage

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Scotland could become the first part of the UK to introduce gay marriage after the SNP government announced plans to make the change.

Ministers confirmed they would bring forward a bill on the issue, indicating the earliest ceremonies could take place by the start of 2015.

Political leaders, equality organisations and some faith groups welcomed introducing same-sex marriage.

But it was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland.

The announcement was made in the wake of a government consultation which produced a record 77,508 responses.

Same-sex couples in Scotland currently have the option to enter into civil partnerships and the Holyrood government has insisted no part of the religious community would be forced to hold same-sex weddings in churches.

The Scottish government said;

  • it would work with UK ministers to amend equality laws to protect celebrants from legal or disciplinary action if they refuse to take part or speak out against same-sex ceremonies.
  • a bill would be brought forward to the Scottish Parliament later this year to bring in the change.

Scotland's deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: "We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships - we believe that this is the right thing to do.


Same sex marriages will not be conducted in Scotland before 2015.

Scotland's deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has confirmed that the start of that year is the earliest new legislation would take effect.

That could bring the Scottish government's timetable into line with UK government plans to change the law in England and Wales.

Ms Sturgeon said it was "entirely feasible and entirely conceivable" that legislation would be going through the Scottish and UK parliaments at roughly the same time.

The UK government's consultation on allowing civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples closed in June 2012.

The coalition is analysing the results before publishing its formal response but Prime Minster, David Cameron, has promised legislation before the next election.

The Scottish government's plans go further. It wants to allow both civil and religious ceremonies, with opt-outs for religious organisations that do not support same sex marriage.

Ms Sturgeon said changes to the UK Equality Act are needed for Scottish legislation to be effective.

The Home Office said: "If changes are needed, they will be made."

It may be the ministry regards passage of its own legislation on same sex marriage as the most convenient way to do this.

If reform happens in Scotland at the same time as in England and Wales, it will allow the Scottish and UK governments to lean on each other in responding to criticism.

There are no plans to allow same sex couple to marry in Northern Ireland.

She went on: "The Scottish government has already made clear that no religious body will be compelled to conduct same-sex marriages and we reiterate that today. Such protection is provided for under existing equality laws.

"However, our view is that to give certainty on protection for individual celebrants taking a different view from a religious body that does agree to conduct same-sex marriages, an amendment will be required to the UK Equality Act."

The Scottish government said it was now going ahead with another consultation to consider what extra measures are needed to guarantee freedom of speech, including the protection of religious beliefs of teachers and parents in schools.

Ministers said the Scottish Catholic Education Service would continue to decide on the faith content of the curriculum in Catholic denominational schools.

Welcoming the government's approach, Tom French, policy co-ordinator for the Equality Network, said: "Same-sex marriage is about equality and freedom - the freedom for couples, and religious and humanist groups that want to, to celebrate same-sex marriages, but equally, upholding the freedom of other religious groups to say no to same-sex marriages.

"That's the right way for Scotland to deal with the different opinions on this."

The Church of Scotland, which will report on its own investigation of the issue in May 2013, expressed concern the government was rushing ahead with its plans.

The Rev Alan Hamilton, convener of the Church of Scotland legal questions committee, said: "We are acutely aware that opinions differ among our own members and that many people are anxious and hurt in the current situation.

"We believe homophobia to be sinful and we reaffirm our strong pastoral commitment to all people in Scotland, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs."

He added: "We are concerned the government will legislate without being able to effectively protect religious bodies or their ministers whose beliefs prevent them from celebrating civil-partnerships or same-sex marriages."

Gay marriage consultation

  • The Scottish government held a public consultation into the issue of same-sex marriage.
  • It had the biggest response of any Scottish government consultation.
  • There were 77,508 responses in total, with 14,779 from outside Scotland.
  • Some 64% of those who responded [including postcard and petition responses] said they were against same-sex marriage.
  • Excluding postcard and petition responses to the consultation from within Scotland the outcome shows 65% were in favour and 35% against.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: "The Scottish government is embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale.

"We strongly suspect that time will show the Church to have been completely correct in explaining that same-sex sexual relationships are detrimental to any love expressed within profound friendships."

Civil partnerships in Scotland offer the same legal treatment as marriage, but are still seen as distinct from marriage.

The UK government, which is consulting on changing the status of civil ceremonies to allow gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales to get married, wants to make the change by 2015.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    215. slowrunner:
    " ... Marriage is cultural as well as religious. SNP had no right to make such a fundamental change through a minority vote. I am almost ashamed to called a "Scot"! ... "

    Marriage is a personal issue. Your marriage is between you and your partner. Anyone else's marriage is between them and their partner. Their marriage affects your marriage not one jot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    "Some 64% of those who responded ...said they were against same-sex marriage."

    So, were the other 36% in favour, or were there also some don't knows?

    What a shameful day for democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    285. banner

    "Christ will rise and make the Scots pay for this!!"

    1. He has already Risen.

    2. He is saying "About time".

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    @277 Marriage was orginally for political/financial alliances - religion co-opted it.

    If anyone is threatened by someone else having the same bit of paper as them then their own marriages can't be that strong/stable.

    Hmmmm lets see in years to come what the stats are on gay divorces.

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    Disappointed to read negative comments from some religious people. Not really surprised as open mouths often come with closed minds. If two people choose to get married then it's their business. It has nothing to do with you, or me for that matter. If there is a god, then he/she will judge people - not you. A little bit more loving thy neighbour please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    Scotland the Brave - well done for being the first. Come on Wales, it should be your turn next!

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    I'm a Christian, yet the Church should mind it's own business. As long as the Church isn't required to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, why do they care about others being called "married"?

    They don't own the word...

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    So yet again,if proof was still required - politicians DO NOT represent their constituents.Putting this through only confirms that. Politicians are all to commonly these days,merely puppets dancing for you,but not actually listening to you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    How nice it is to see that all the HYS comments from the anti-gay marriage, pro-dark age community are the lowest rated, and all those realists who respect their fellow human beings are all supported. I think that speaks volumes. Well done Scotland. Shame on the narrow minded cave-dwellers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    @frockofthenorth - what a sad and sorry reason to get married. I got married because I love my wife and want to spend the rest of my life with her.

    I am pretty appalled by some of the religious hatred on here - whatever happened to love thy neighbour? Do unto others? Go back to your fairy stories and leave the decision making to adults.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    i think some people need to grow up . And act the age rather than there shoe size. If someone wants to worship a god then let them worship a god, if a man loves another man let them if a woman loves another woman let them. Not everyone has to agree with these views as everyone has there own views. But i think it just shows how immature and backwards society is. bad times ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    I'm not sure what Rab C Nesbitt would have made of this development but I suspect like me he had a completely different conception of the Scottish nation. A concept grown from men engaged in tough highland sports like tossing the caber, hammer throwing etc. Reinforced by the contempt some Scots seem to have of the soft English. Well well well..........

  • Comment number 298.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    I'm not sure Christ would have found a small thing such as gender important in determining whether two humans should make a lasting commitment to one another. We'll definitely have marriage for all who want it in 100 years. I'm only sorry tory-dominated Westminster didn't feel it could take this step first, and left it to the Scots.

  • Comment number 296.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    224 oy baldy, and others: it doesn't matter if gay tourists come to Scotland by the busload to get married; when they get home, they still won't be legally married.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    @235 Matt, you are confusing consultation with referendum. Consultation is only to get your input into the decision making process the government aren't bound by it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    It's ok for religion to cover up disgusting child abuse but allow gay marriage based on love and we all burn in hell - give me a break. The sooner religion dies off the better we will all be, I would like to see these establishments curtailed by the state not pandered to.

  • Comment number 292.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    There have been nearly 3000 distinct religions in recorded human history. Each of them with their own rules and regs. Who is to say that any is the correct one?

    And for everyone quoting the silent majority-they are silent. You don't know what they believe, stop making assumptions about other people.


Page 54 of 69


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