Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Gay marriage legalised in Scotland

MSPS have passed the landmark Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill by 105 votes to 18, making Scotland the 17th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.

SCOTLAND has become the 17th country in the world to legalise gay marriage after a historic vote at Holyrood.
MSPs passed landmark legislation that will allow same-sex couples to have a church wedding by 105 votes to 18.
And Health Secretary Alex Neil revealed the first marriages could take place this autumn - earlier than first thought.
He added: “We’re doing a remarkable thing today, we are saying on behalf of Scotland to the world, loud and clear that we believe in recognising love between same sex couples as we do between opposite sex couples.”
Neil said the legislation would “allow same sex couples to do what thousands of opposite sex couples do every year - get married”.
But he stressed the Scottish Government “respected the decision” of those religious groups who did not want to perform same-sex marriage, with protections included in the legislation “so they can not be forced to solemnise a same sex marriage”.
Gay rights organisations, including the Equality Network and Stonewall Scotland, have supported the legislation.
But the Scottish Catholic Church and Church of Scotland oppose the move, and have said they have no plans to conduct same-sex marriages.
Quakers have campaigned in favour of the change and have said they would allow ceremonies to take place on their premises.
Other religious groups which back change include Buddhists and the Pagan Federation.
Tom French, Policy Coordinator for the Equality Network, said: “Today will be remembered in history as the day that lesbian, gay and bisexual people were finally granted full legal equality in Scotland, and given an equal right to marry the person they love.
“This is a profoundly emotional moment for many people who grew up in a country where being gay was still a criminal offence until 1980.
“Scotland can be proud that we now have one of the most progressive equal marriage bills in the world, and that we’ve sent out a strong message about the kind of country we are.
“We know this change means so much to LGBT people across Scotland and we look forward to the first same-sex marriages taking place as soon as possible.”
SNP MSP John Mason was the most vocal critic of the plans.
He tabled a series of ammendments, including one calling for recognition that “a belief in marriage as a voluntary union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others for life is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society”.
He said: “This has been the prevailing view in Scotland for centuries, and may now be considered a minority view or even old fashioned, but it is an integral tenet of faith for many Christians, Muslims and others as well as the belief of many of no faith position at all.”
As well as the main bill, Scottish ministers have also reached an agreement with the UK government for an amendment to the 2010 Equality Act.
The move aims to protect individual religious celebrants, who do not wish to conduct same-sex marriages, from the threat of court action claiming discrimination.
The Scottish government’s marriage bill was brought forward after a government consultation, which produced a record 77,508 responses.


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