Scotland: no decision on gay marriage

Scottish government will announce its desicion by the end of the month. LGBT campaigners criticise the delay

Scotland: no decision on gay marriage
17 July 2012

The Scottish government has not announced a decision on same-sex marriage following a cabinet meeting to discuss the issue.

Cabinet members of the Scottish National Party (SNP) government met at the First Minister’s official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh to discuss same-sex marriage.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: ‘This is an important issue and it is right that cabinet takes the time to get both the principle and the detail of the decision right.’

However they have ruled out holding a referendum on the issue – something demanded by Catholic leader Cardinal Keith O’Brien only yesterday.

According to the Equality Network, a Scottish LGBT campaign charity, a desicion about how to carry the marriage equality legislation forward was expected to be announced at 4pm today (17 July).

But according to the Scottish government it ‘remains committed to publishing the consultation responses and our clear decision on the way forward before the end of this month.’

The alleged delay was criticised by LGBT rights campaigners and organisations.  

Speaking with Gay Star News, Colin Macfarlane, director of gay campaign group Stonewall Scotland, said: ‘While we are disappointed that no decision was made today we are pleased that the Scottish government has confirmed that a referendum has been ruled out.

‘Ministers have stated that a final decision on a way forward will be at the end of this month, we look forward to that and urge them to stick to their guns and say I do to equal marriage.

Tom French, policy coordinator for the Equality Network, stated: ’We welcome the announcement that same-sex marriage will not be the subject of a referendum – that would have been completely inappropriate.

‘LGBT people across Scotland will be very disappointed tonight that no further announcement has been made.

‘It is now vital to the government’s credibility that a clear and positive decision is announced before the end of the month.’

Opinion polls have shown consistent public support for same-sex marriage in Scotland.

The SNP government is thought to be in favour allowing faith based orgnisations to conduct marriage ceremonies if they choose to do so.

Same-sex marriage is particularly opposed by Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Catholic, who yesterday (16 July) demanded a referendum on same-sex marriage in a last-ditch effort to delay the decision.

According the Scottish government spokesperson the cabinet rejected the Cardinal’s call for a referendum on same-sex marriage.

But a sub-committee led by deputy leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon will ‘further examine some particular issues of detail before a final decision is reached’ on lesbian and gay marriage equality.

According to Alan Roden, political editor of the Daily Mail in Scotland, these ‘issues of detail’ include protection for ‘freedom of religion’ and ‘freedom of speech’. This may be a strategy by the government to engage some critics from the Catholic church while going ahead with marriage equality.

The Catholic Church says it will spend an additional £100,000 ($155,000 €127,000) on an advertizing campaign against the plans, on top of the £50,000 ($78,000 €64,000) it has already spent against marriage equality in Scotland.

But some faith groups favor the same-sex marriage, in April a Faith in Marriage coalition was formed and urged politicians to lift the ban on religious same-sex marriages in Scotland.

Faith in Marriage includes members of the United Reformed Church, the Quakers, the Unitarians, Liberal Judaism, the Humanists, the Iona Community, Buddhists, the Open Episcopal Church, the Metropolitan Community Church and the Pagan Federation. In addition, it has the support of ministers from the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

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