Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 20th November 2013.

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Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

That matter is currently under legal appeal. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on that particular example. I am happy to clarify such matters more generally, either during tonight’s debate or by writing to Murdo Fraser.

The bill establishes an opt-in system for religious and belief bodies in relation to same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, and makes it clear that there is no duty to opt in. The bill will impose no duty on any person who is an approved celebrant to solemnise same-sex marriages or to register civil partnerships. In addition, the United Kingdom Equality Act 2010 will be amended to protect individual celebrants who refuse to solemnise same-sex marriage from court actions claiming discrimination. Same-sex marriage will not be introduced in Scotland until the amendment to the 2010 act has been secured—as I believe it will be. We have reached agreement with the UK Government about the amendment to the Equality Act 2010, and we have published a detailed statement on what is planned.

As we have indicated, the amendments that will be made will also cover other persons who play an integral part in the religious or belief aspects of the marriage or civil partnership ceremony. They will protect persons who control use of religious or belief premises and who refuse to allow those premises to be used for same-sex marriage or civil partnership ceremonies.

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