Row within SNP over John Mason's gay marriage motion

Same-sex couple marking partnership with ring
Image caption The Scottish government is due to hold a consultation on the issue of same-sex marriages

A senior figure in the SNP has criticised one of his party colleagues over his stance on same-sex marriages.

Nationalist MSP John Mason has tabled a motion at the Scottish parliament stating that no person or organisation should be forced to be involved or to approve of same-sex marriage.

The motion is backed by three other Nationalist MSPs.

Now Alyn Smith MEP, writing in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, has condemned their actions.

He wrote that he would not tolerate discrimination and said that he demands equality.

He insisted that no church or individual would be forced to approve of or perform gay weddings.

Mr Smith said his colleague's motion "saddened" him and wrote: "What is in the small, mean, angry heads of bigots is a matter for them.

"I have never asked for their approval, but I demand equality."

Free speech

Mr Mason, who represents Glasgow Shettleston, lodged a motion at the parliament earlier this week ahead of the Scottish government's forthcoming public consultation concerning equal marriage.

It stated: "That the Parliament notes... that while some in society approve of same-sex sexual relationships, others do not agree with them; desires that Scotland should be a pluralistic society where all minorities can live together in peace and mutual tolerance; believes that free speech is a fundamental right and that even when there is disagreement with another person's views, that person has the right to express these views, and considers that no person or organisation should be forced to be involved in or to approve of same-sex marriages."

The motion is supported by SNP MSPs Bill Walker, Richard Lyle and Dave Thompson.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie and the Liberal Democrat's Willie Rennie have condemn Mr Mason's stance and lodged amendments to his parliamentary motion.

In its election manifesto the SNP said it would hold a consultation on the issue of same-sex marriage.

The Scottish Labour party has urged the First Minister to "name a date" for a debate on the issue.

Responding to Mr Smith's comments, Mr Mason stood by his views on same-sex marriages and said he lodged his motion to stop the debate on the issue "just flowing in the one direction."

He said: "I'm perfectly relaxed about gay marriage but the fear amongst some of the churches is that if they're allowed to carry out same-sex marriage some will and some won't.

"The next step will be that someone goes to a church that doesn't want to and it will get taken to court."

He accepted the strong feelings sparked by his comments and said: "That's just part of politics. It's the game we're in.

"I knew something like this was going to happen."

"I hope it can calm down and we can get a reasonable debate."

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