Plan for gay marriage in Scotland
Scotland could introduce same-sex marriage after the SNP government announced plans to make the change.
Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Scottish government plans to bring forward legislation which would permit it.
The controversial issue has been backed by politicians from all the main parties north of the border, as well as equality campaigners, but has attracted fierce criticism from some religious organisations.
Ms 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 this is the right thing to do.”
The decision comes after almost 80,000 people responded to a Scottish government consultation on the issue.
The UK government has also put forward proposals to bring in same-sex marriage, which it supports, but ministers are waiting until the end of a consultation before making a decision on the matter.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “The Scottish government is embarking on a dangerous social experiment on a massive scale.
“However, the Church looks much further than the short-term electoral time-scales of politicians.
“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.
“However, in the short term and long term the Church does not see same-sex marriage as an appropriate and helpful response to same-sex attraction.”
Equality campaigners said today is “a proud day for Scotland”.
Tom French, policy co-ordinator for the Equality Network, said: “The Scottish government have shown their determination to make Scotland a more progressive country. With cross-party support for equality in the Scottish parliament, we would expect that this change can be passed next year.
“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.
“We have no problem with a small amendment to the equality act to ensure that religious celebrants who disagree don’t have to conduct same-sex marriages. We have always said that religious bodies and celebrants who do not want to conduct same-sex marriage should be free to opt out.”
The new law also means transgender people will no longer have to be single or divorced for their gender to be legally recognised.
James Morton, co-ordinator of Scottish Transgender Alliance, said: “Opening up marriage to all, regardless of gender, is a sign that all families in Scotland are equally valued.”
Jaye and Ruth Richards-Hill, a lesbian Christian couple from Glasgow, said: “We are no longer treated like second-class citizens by our government. We are thrilled that we can now get the religious wedding that we deserve.”
Nathan and Robert Gale, a gay couple from Edinburgh, said: “This is an extremely exciting day for us and for everyone in Scotland who supports equality. The love that we have for each other is the same as that between heterosexual couples, and now our marriage will be as well.”