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

We are very clear that there is no chance of a successful appeal to the European Court. Apart from anything else, the European convention on human rights does not give someone the right to same-sex marriage in the first place. There are also other reasons, which I do not have time to go into tonight, why we are absolutely sure that any appeal to the European Court would not be successful.

In summary, I believe that the bill is—as Jackie Baillie and others have said—a balanced package that allows freedom and rights to be exercised by those who at present cannot exercise them, without in any way diminishing or threatening the rights and freedoms of those who take a different point of view.

More importantly, as many speakers have pointed out, it is not the text of the bill that matters but the message that it sends out about 21st-century Scotland. We are joining those 16 states in America, those nine European countries, our friends south of the border and all the other countries, including South Africa, that have already passed legislation to provide a modern framework of legislation relating to marriage that recognises the equality of all our people. As Rabbie said, we are all Jock Tamson’s bairns, and all the bairns are entitled to exactly the same treatment throughout our law, now including marriage law.

This is a historic day for Scotland. Future generations will look back and congratulate the Parliament on passing this progressive piece of legislation. [Applause.]