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 1370.

    Well done Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon - this is an amzing step forward.
    Equality for all.
    However, it is sad that the news was announced on a day when the Archbishop made hurtful and inappropriate comments regrding the death of Labour MP David Cairns.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1369.

    Scotland - You have done the World PROUD. XXXX

  • rate this

    Comment number 1368.

    It should be taught/discussed in schools as it exists and people are discriminated against for being LGBT. Only way to end discrimination is via education.

    Discussing something exists doesn't turn people LGBT, lets face it all LGBT should be straight then as we are all taught about marriage between a man and a woman!!

    Good on the Scottish government, equality all the way!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1367.

    @1356. Doctor Bob

    I think the hetero majority just don't care.. I certainly don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1366.

    SwampPuppet has a point.... he understands the bbc pro gay agenda. why? cos 40% of the bbc is gay. lol..they ended up brainwashing 80% of the British people over the last 20 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1365.

    @1336. You are clearly misinformed. The 'kilt' is a long broad piece of woven fabric that is wrapped around one's body to produce a skirt like effect. A 'skirt' on the other hand is a loose tube of fabric traditionally with a zipper to hold it in place around the waist. Do you lack basic education? It'd appear so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1364.

    It is not often Scotland manages to get things right, think the Lockerbie bomber for the last time they let everyone down but Libya, however credit where credit is due and this is a real winner.

    Well done Scotland!

  • Comment number 1363.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1362.

    "I don't give a damn what people are-but surely an even playing field should be applied to all opinions otherwise this country is in danger of

    This is just a repackaging of the idea that tolerant people should be tolerant of intolerant bigots, otherwise how tolerant are they really? Sorry bigot, that doesn't wash.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1361.

    The Catholic Church has no moral authority to speak on any subject given the level of institutionalised protection it has for decades afforded to paedophile Priests, most noteably in Ireland. The whole institution wreaks of hypocrisy and an apparently openly "homophobic" (D Kehoe) Archbishop-elect of Glasgow will do nothing to improve the public face of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1360.

    Why do the gay community insist on wanting to emulate the hetrosexual community and the traditional Church practices, if they are not welcome they should accept this. They should forget trying to being part of the traditional church practices and set up their own independant sections of each religion and ignor the rest.

  • Comment number 1359.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1358.

    Something funny with the votes today.

    Anti-gay comments seem to slowly rise with + votes and then at about +3 or +4 they suddenly go to -3 or -4 and on to -10 as though there is some organisation to push the gay agenda.

    Basically gay BBC staff monitoring this story instead of working.

    Murdoch or the BBC. All our media is left-wing and politically motivated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1357.

    Callum L ... are you trying to say that the National Socialists were pro-gay?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1356.

    If I wrote my true feelings about gayness and gay marriages my post would be deleted. The gay minority is allowed to shout loud about how great it is but the hetero majority are allowed NO say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1355.

    @1284 I was educated under Thatchers Section 28. I am still gay, that's just the way I am and not from anyones influence. Maybe if education had been better in that regard I wouldn't have gone through some very bad times. I hope if any of your children are gay you will continue to love and support them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1354.

    Out of interest,
    a hetero married couple are referred to as a husband and a wife, how would your refer to a gay couple? how do children of gay couples refer to their parents?
    I am not asking out of malice, I am in favour of the proposal, I am just curious as to how the rest of the terminoligy associated with marraige and parenthood would be affected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1353.

    MPjacko The majority of people in Scotland don't want this to happen.

    You have been watching too much BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 1352.

    The only reason the State is behind this is as a money saver.

    Only marrieds are subject to divorce law, and where there are adopted kids, then one or other of the separated can be cleaned out by The Courts to support them, rather than the taxpayer.

    Now that many straight young men are understandably wary of marriage, there are moves to make paternity, rather than husbandhood the issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1351.

    1318. Morphius bane Re: the position with civil partnership. I think we'll have to wait for the bill to be published to find out about its status but I think they'll be an opening up of civil partnership to heterosexuals. There are people who would like recognition of partnership but do not go along with the historical baggage marriage entails.


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