Scottish Government to allow same-gender marriage.
I thought Nicola Sturgeon's comments were very well measured, taking into account differences of opinion on the matter, as well as reassuring those amongst various religious communities who are against the move, that they will not be 'forced' to do this as they kept claiming. The new legislation takes into account those religious groups who actually do want to perform weddings for same-gender folk as well as those who in conscience don't want to. This works along the same lines as a minister's right to refuse - if they don't agree with it - to marry a divorced couple... and a minister's right to choose to marry a divorced couple. I've been very puzzled by all the claims regarding 'being forced' into marrying LGBT couples. Nevertheless: good news and jolly well done to the Scottish Government.
Scottish Government understands and respects the fact that there are
very deeply held views in Scotland both for and against same sex
marriage and, in coming to our decision, we have had to carefully
consider a number of different factors.
are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we
intend to proceed with plans to allow same sex marriage and religious
ceremonies for civil partnerships. We believe that this is the right
thing to do.
"We are also mindful of
the fact that the leaders of all of the other parties represented in
parliament support same sex marriage and that there is significant
parliamentary support for legislation.
we are also deeply committed to freedom of speech and religion. The
concerns of those who do not favour same sex marriage require to be
properly addressed. It is therefore right that the next step in this
process will be to consult stakeholders on any provisions that may be
required, in either statute or guidance, to protect these important
principles and address specific concerns that have been expressed.
Scottish Government has already made clear that no religious body will
be compelled to conduct same sex marriages and we reiterate that today.
Such protection is provided for under existing equality laws.
our view is that to give certainty on protection for individual
celebrants taking a different view from a religious body that does agree
to conduct same sex marriages, an amendment will be required to the UK
Equality Act. We will work with the UK Government to secure agreement to
such an amendment before the formal introduction of a Bill to
Parliament, with a view to it being in place before the legislation
comes into force.
"A range of other
concerns have also been expressed and we will take the opportunity to
discuss with stakeholders what additional protections should be
included, either in the legislation itself or in guidance, to address
"This will include
consideration of any provisions that may be required to protect
religious beliefs of teachers and parents in schools.
also intend to protect the current situation whereby the faith content
of the curriculum in Catholic denominational schools is determined by
the Scottish Catholic Education Service.
is by no means the first and will not be the last country to legalise
same sex marriage. However, as we proceed towards legislation, our
overriding concern will be to respect the variety of views that exist on
this issue and do whatever we can to address those concerns that have
been expressed, while ensuring that Scotland lives up to its aspiration
to be an equal and tolerant society."