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Scottish plan same-sex marriage bill in next 12 months

The Scottish parliament is likely to debate gay marriage equality within the next parliamentary session, First Minister Alex Salmond has announced
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has said his parliament will now debate gay marriage equality in next 12 months.

The Scottish government is due to debate same-sex marriage equality within their 2012 to 2013 session, it has been announced.

It will be part of a package of 15 bills brought forward to the Holyrood chamber in Edinburgh over the next 12 months.

First Minister Alex Salmond has just announced details of his legislative program for the next year and paved the way for a referendum in 2014 on Scottish independence from Britain.

Same-sex marriage equality will also be brought forward in a Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill.

Salmond’s ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) will allow its members a free or ‘conscience’ vote on the issue.

A government consultation on the move, separate to the consultation held on the same proposal in England and Wales, took place last year and generated 77,508 responses.

There then followed months of delay, during which right-wing Christians, led by the Catholic hierarchy and Church of Scotland, ran a vociferous campaign against lesbian and gay marriage.

But at the end of July, the Scottish government said it would bring forward legislation on the issue, suggesting couples may be getting wed as early as the start of 2015, putting them slightly ahead of the parallel timetable in England and Wales.

The move has widespread political and public support, despite the anti-gay campaign against it, including from some smaller faith groups.

The Scottish government has made clear that no faith groups would be forced to marry gay couples but instead would be able to choose whether to do so or not.

Same-sex couples in Scotland can already have civil partnerships which carry broadly the same rights and responsibilities as marriage but are seen by many as a second-class system.

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