Lee Williscroft-Ferris reports on today’s historic announcement on the introduction of marriage equality in Scotland.
The Scottish government has today announced its intention to bring forward a bill which will make Scotland the first part of the United Kingdom to allow full civil marriage for same-sex couples.
In a hugely significant move, 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.’
The announcement comes after a government consultation on the issue of marriage equality attracted over 77,000 responses, 64% of which were apparently against same-sex marriage.
The consultation period had been characterised by the vehement, outspoken opposition of Scotland’s most senior Catholic figure, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who, as reported by So So Gay, had called for a referendum to be held. The government’s stated intention to remove the ban on religious civil partnership ceremonies will undoubtedly incur the rancour of O’Brien and likeminded Scots.
Seeking to reassure religious institutions, Sturgeon explained; ‘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.’
Today’s historic announcement comes as the Westminster government continues to reaffirm its commitment to introduce marriage equality in England and Wales by 2015. The extent to which progress north of the border affects this process remains to be seen.
Featured image courtesy of Stéfan.