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Gay marriage in Scotland awaits final vote

LGBTI people and their allies are all awaiting the vote to see whether Scotland will join the 16 other countries to allow same-sex marriage
Scottish gay people are awaiting the final vote on marriage equality today (4 February).
Photo by Australia Marriage Equality.

People all over Scotland are awaiting the final vote today (4 February), finding out whether it will join the 16 other countries in the world to allow same-sex marriage.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is expected to be approved by parliament later today. But while a shock still could happen, it is looking likely it will pass around 6pm local time.

Under the new legislation, religious bodies will be able to opt in to perform same-sex marriages but individual celebrants who feel it would go against their faith will be protected.

Civil marriage ceremonies will be able to take place anywhere agreed by the registrar and the couple, other than religious ceremonies.

Humanist ceremonies will be allowed, and religious and belief ceremonies will be allowed to register civil partnerships.

Transgender people will be allowed to stay married, rather than having to get divorced, when obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate. There will be no such thing as a ‘spousal veto’.

The majority of the Scottish government said the move was the right thing to do, while Scotland’s two main church organizations were deeply opposed.

The Holyrood parliament overwhelmingly passed the bill in the previous vote, by 98 votes to 15 with five abstentions.

It comes as it was reported the Scottish Government could implement the bill far quicker than first expected. The first same-sex weddings were to take place in 2015 at the earliest.

But now, with help from the UK Government, the first gay marriages could take place as early as October.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: ‘It will allow all people having the same opportunity as each other in Scotland who love each other to have their marriage recognised in the eyes of the law.’

Tom French, policy coordinator for the Equality Network, said: ‘We want to see the first same-sex marriages take place in Scotland as soon as possible, so we are delighted to hear that the Scottish Government are working to make that happen.

‘If our Members of Scottish Parliament pass the equal marriage bill this week, 2014 will be a milestone year for LGBT equality in Scotland.

‘We know that many couples across the country are looking forward to planning their wedding and its great news that their big day may now come about rather sooner than expected.’

The first same-sex weddings are scheduled to take place in England and Wales on 29 March. No similar legislation is currently being planned in Northern Ireland.

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