Gay marriage will be legalised in Scotland, the SNP government announced on Wednesday, after the Scottish government has finally settle the framework for legislation.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously said that the Scottish Government planned to bring forward legislation which would permit it, reports The Telegraph.
She 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 this is the right thing to do.”
Political leaders, equality groups and gay rights campaigners has already welcomed the news, while the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland disapprove the move.
Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: “This is a small but important step for equality in Scotland. I’m sure there will be bumps on the road but Nicola Sturgeon can count on my support to deliver equality in marriage.”
A Scottish Tory spokesman commented on the issue: “Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is on record supporting same sex marriage and has confirmed that, similar to other parties, MSPs will be given a free vote on the issue, if the SNP ever brings it to the chamber.”
The announcement was made following a government consultation which produced a record 77,508 responses, reports BBC.
“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,” said Ms Sturgeon.
She continued: “The 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.”
The country’s government is now expected to decide what extra measures are needed to guarantee freedom of speech, the protection of religious beliefs of teachers and parents in schools.
According to reports, the Scottish government plans to hold a consultation on the bill itself, to be published later this year.
Ministers said the Scottish Catholic Education Service would continue to decide on the faith content of the curriculum in Catholic denominational schools.
Tom French, policy co-ordinator for the Equality Network, said: “The Scottish government have shown their determination to make Scotland a more progressive country.”
“With cross-party support for equality in the Scottish Parliament, we would expect that this change can be passed next year.”
Mr French added: “Same-sex marriage is about equality and freedom – the freedom for couples, and religious and humanist groups that want to, to celebrate same-sex marriages, but equally, upholding the freedom of other religious groups to say no to same-sex marriages.”
However, there were speculations considering the probability that the SNP might not enact gay marriage in Scotland until the UK Equalities Act – which affects the entire country – is amended at Westminster, as part of the coalition’s separate plans to legislate for gay weddings.
The Scottish government said on Wednesday: “We consider that an amendment to the UK Equality Act will be required.”
“We will work with the UK Government to secure agreement to such an amendment before the formal introduction of a Bill to the Scottish Parliament and with a view to it being in place before the Bill comes into force.”
The Deputy First Minister promised that the first gay marriages in Scotland will take place in 2015, the same year that the Coalition Government wants to make the change south of the Border.