The aim of the consultation was to seek views on the proposed changes. The Scottish Government’s consultation paper set out 20 questions: 9 relating to civil partnership, 10 relating to the same sex marriage proposals and a final question asking for further views.
The Scottish Government consultation response form set out all of the 20 consultation questions. A number of other organisations or groups also developed their own amended or abridged versions of the consultation form, produced postcards or arranged petitions. All responses received, in whatever format, were analysed with an overall aim of identifying key issues and ensuring that the full range and depth of views was represented. A total of 77,508 responses were received.
The majority of the individuals and groups that responded to the consultation were very firmly on one side of the debate or the other – few, if any respondents, were ‘sitting on the fence’ and the considerable majority either supported both propositions or strongly opposed both. Nevertheless, some respondents did try to see the alternative point of view and sought areas where compromise might be possible.
It was when considering whether any legislation should allow rather than require religious bodies to be involved that consensus did emerge and there were very few respondents who considered that religious bodies or celebrants should be required to undertake ceremonies which they were not comfortable with. Although approaching the basic proposals from very different starting points, many respondents were united in their insistence that Scotland must remain a country in which freedom of religious conscience is treated with the utmost respect.