This consultation paper seeks views on the possibility of allowing religious ceremonies for civil partnerships and the possible introduction of same sex marriage.
This Government believes in religious tolerance and the freedom to worship. We also believe in equality and diversity.
There are a variety of views on religious ceremonies for civil partnerships and on same sex marriage. We hope that everyone will use this consultation to express their views and opinions. However, as the debate unfolds, we also hope that everyone will treat those with different or opposing views with courtesy and respect, in accordance with the very highest standards of democratic discourse.
The Scottish Government is choosing to make its initial views clear at the outset of this consultation. We tend towards the view that religious ceremonies for civil partnerships should no longer be prohibited and that same sex marriage should be introduced so that same sex couples have the option of getting married if that is how they wish to demonstrate their commitment to each other. We also believe that no religious body or its celebrants should be required to carry out same sex marriages or civil partnership ceremonies.
The Scottish Government is committed to detailed and thorough consultation in this area, and to further careful consideration of the implications of equality and human rights law for any proposals. We recognise the variety of views. We want to hear from all sections of Scottish society. As well as this written consultation, we will also meet face to face with religious bodies and other key organisations during the consultation period.
And although we have expressed our initial view, we give an assurance that all views will be listened to. No final views have been reached and no decisions have been taken.
The detail, in addition to the general principles, is also very important in this area. Therefore, if, after this consultation, the Scottish Government should decide to introduce a Bill into Parliament, we will consult on the detail of the draft Bill before it is introduced.
I urge everybody with an interest to respond to this consultation.
Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy