News has emerged this afternoon that the cabinet of The Scottish government will announce they will discuss plans to legislate for same-sex marriage when it meets later. The Scottish National Party ministers, who favor the move, are due to announce legislation later this week in following a consultation which resulted in 80,000 responses from all over the nation, reports Jason Shaw.
The proposals, if passed would see Scotland be the first part of the UK to allow full same sex marriage, already the policy has provoked opposition from some anti-gay religious groups, including the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland. Same-sex couples in Scotland currently have the option to enter into civil partnerships and the government has insisted no religious organizations would be forced to hold same-sex weddings in their churches. These are the same conditions and rules as in the proposed bill for England and Wales, which is expected to be debated in London later this year, with a change in the law coming into force during 2015.
The introduction of marriage equality has been backed by a so called “rainbow coalition” of organizations and groups in Scotland, including The Equality Network, Amnesty International, Unison and the Humanist Society of Scotland, as well as most of the main political parties. Even some ‘faith’ groups or churches, including the United Reformed Church, the Quakers, Buddhists and the Pagan Federation also support the move.
The UK’s most senior Roman Catholic, the cardinal Keith O’Brien, branded the plans a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” and urged the Scottish government to hold a referendum on the proposals. The homophobic Cardinal O’Brien, leads the church in Scotland, previously authorized a plan to raise £100,000 through special church collections to support the Scotland For Marriage campaign against same-sex marriage and equality.
There are some divisions in the SNP party over support for the proposal, Gordon Wilson, a former SNP leader, warned plans for same-sex marriage could “alienate” people considering voting for Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum.
Although civil partnerships in Scotland offer the same legal treatment as marriage in areas such as inheritance, pensions provision, life assurance, child maintenance, next of kin and immigration rights, they are still seen as distinct from marriage. A man and a woman can opt for a religious or civil marriage ceremony, whereas a same-sex partnership is an exclusively civil procedure. Many wish to see the laws changed to allow full equality, on both sides, enabling different sex couples for entering civil partnerships.