Same sex marriage
A consultation on a draft Bill to allow same sex marriage in Scotland has started today.
The plans have received cross party support in the Scottish Parliament.
The consultation seeks views on the detail of the legislation. It covers not only the introduction of same sex marriage but the detail of important protections in relation to religious bodies and celebrants, freedom of speech and education.
The Bill contains a provision making it clear that the introduction of same sex marriage has no impact on existing rights to freedom of speech.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said:
"We are introducing same sex marriage in Scotland because it is the right thing to do.
“We are striving to create a Scotland that is free, tolerant and fair and I am pleased to say there is support across the chamber for this significant step.
“I am absolutely clear that this should not impact on religious freedom and no religious body will be compelled to solemnise same sex marriages. Religious bodies who wish to solemnise same sex marriage will have to opt in.
“Where a body does decide to solemnise same sex marriages, we will also protect individual celebrants who consider such ceremonies to be contrary to their faith.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said:
"This Bill represents a proud step forwards for equality in Scotland. Equal marriage is the right and natural step towards the modern, tolerant and progressive Scotland we all want to see.
"These reasonable changes are about removing barriers and extending freedoms. It will extend the rights of same-sex couples whilst retaining the freedom of religious groups who do not wish to conduct same sex marriages. Scottish Liberal Democrats look forward to working with the Scottish Government on this historic bill.”
Independent MSP Margo MacDonald said:
“I’m glad that the government is going out to consultation on this because the more people who discuss the question the harder it will be for anyone to recommend that such an inequality of treatment should be tolerated – the measure has my full support.”
Co-convener of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvie MSP said:
"Scottish Green Party policy has supported equal marriage for over a decade. Wider Scottish public and political opinions have been moving in the direction of equality for many years too, and I congratulate the Scottish Government for taking this next logical step.
"I look forward to examining the bill in detail over the coming months to ensure that it commits fully to the principle that same sex couples and mixed-sex couples are equal in Scotland."
The closing date for the consultation is Wednesday, 20 March 2013.