Scotland could become the first part of the UK to introduce gay marriage after the SNP government announced plans to make the change.
Ministers confirmed they would bring forward a bill on the issue, indicating the earliest ceremonies could take place by the start of 2015.
Political leaders, equality organisations and some faith groups welcomed introducing same-sex marriage. But it was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland.
The announcement was made in the wake of a government consultation which produced a record 77,508 responses.
Same-sex couples in Scotland currently have the option to enter into civil partnerships and the Holyrood government has insisted no part of the religious community would be forced to hold same-sex weddings in churches.
The Scottish government said;
- it would work with UK ministers to amend equality laws to protect celebrants from legal or disciplinary action if they refuse to take part or speak out against same-sex ceremonies.
- a bill would be brought forward to the Scottish Parliament later this year to bring in the change.
Scotland’s deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “We 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.
- BBC News