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 John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to take part in this debate today.

Clearly, we are dealing with a sensitive subject, and there has been a certain amount of strident language in the media from people at both ends of the spectrum. However, it was encouraging that in committee there was a generally reasonable tone from both committee members and witnesses. That tone was important because, whether Scotland is devolved or independent, we must be able to disagree among ourselves in a civilised way. I believe that that is what this Parliament is for.

We do not all need to be the same as each other and we do not all need to agree on one point of view. I want what I hope we all want, which is a pluralistic and inclusive Scotland that is made up of a wide variety of people and groups, and in which people of different backgrounds and orientations, and people with traditional faiths or none, can all belong and feel at home.

I think that we have to note as well that Parliament is not reflecting public opinion on this issue. We can argue about whether those supporting or those opposing the bill have the greater numbers on their side, but there is certainly not the overwhelming support outside this place for the bill that there seems to be inside. Parliament therefore needs to tread wisely if it is to keep all the people of Scotland on board.