Ex-SNP leader Gordon Wilson attacks gay marriage

Gordon Wilson Mr Wilson said political correctness was occupying a position "to which it has no right"

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A former SNP leader has attacked plans to introduce gay marriage, branding them "a step towards fascism".

Gordon Wilson told BBC Scotland that the state should not be asserting a superior claim over what citizens do or think.

A bill to bring in same-sex marriage forms part of the Scottish government's new legislative programme.

Mr Wilson will criticise the plans in a speech to the party conference later this week.

SNP ministers said the move was the "right thing to do" and it received backing from equality campaigners and cross-party support at Holyrood.

But Mr Wilson, who led the Nationalists in the 1980s, will tell MSPs they face losing their seats if they "scorn the electorate".

Speaking to BBC Scotland, he said a consultation on the issue had shown the public were not in favour of legislation.

Mr Wilson said political correctness was now occupying a position "to which it has no right" and when the state moves into legislating on same-sex marriage it becomes "a step towards fascism".

He added: "What you have to watch is when the state believes that it has a superior claim to tell its own citizens what to do and what to think.

"And that is what is beginning to happen here."

Controversial issues

Mr Wilson will address a fringe meeting at the SNP conference in Perth on Thursday.

It has been organised by Scotland For Marriage, the umbrella group set up to oppose gay marriage laws.

Equality Network has called on Scotland for Marriage to issue an apology for comparing supporters of same-sex marriage with "fascists".

Mr Wilson stressed that with similar moves being planned at Westminster and cross-party support at Holyrood that his concerns were not a specific attack on the SNP.

He added that any controversial issue such as this or abortion should be presented through a member's bill and not as government legislation.

Start Quote

The Scottish government is committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal”

End Quote Scottish government spokeswoman

He will say: "Be warned, those MSPs of all parties on a narrow majority who exercise their 'free' vote for same sex marriage. They may find that a free vote has as much validity as a 'free' lunch. If they ignore public opinion, a P45 may await. Do not scorn the electorate."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish government is 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, a move supported by all party leaders in the Scottish Parliament.

"We are deeply committed to freedom of speech and religion and have already made clear that no religious body or celebrant will be compelled to conduct same sex marriages. Our next consultation will outline the details of the protections in these areas and seek all views."

About 80,000 people responded to the initial government consultation on the issue, with 36% in favour of same-sex marriage and 64% against.

But when responses such as postcards and petitions were excluded, that was reversed, with 65% in favour and 35% against.

Tom French, Equality Network spokesman, said: "The opponents of LGBT equality have sunk to a new low by comparing equal marriage supporters to fascists and Nazis.

"The fascist regimes of the 20th Century persecuted, tortured and murdered LGBT people.

"In contrast, the Scottish government are promoting equality and religious freedom for all. No religious body will be required to conduct same-sex marriages, but those that want to will now have the freedom to do so."

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