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 have found the submissions and we will put them on the website. As Alex Johnstone said, they were not lost through any fault of the Scottish Government. There was a technical hitch on the part of the people who submitted those 4,100 submissions.

I know that the detailed examination of the bill by the Equal Opportunities Committee has been challenging, so I pay tribute to all the members of the committee—in particular Margaret McCulloch and Mary Fee, who have been the two conveners of the committee during that period.

Throughout the consultations and the stage 1 process, the Government has acknowledged the diversity and strength of religious beliefs. In the foreword to the first consultation, my predecessor Nicola Sturgeon emphasised that

“This Government believes in religious tolerance and the freedom to worship.”

We recognise—although we disagree with them—that some people of faith sincerely believe that marriage should be between, and only between, one man and one woman. There is a vigorous and respectful debate on same-sex marriage in many religious bodies, as there is across society and in Parliament. Some religious and belief bodies wish to solemnise same-sex marriage, and the bill provides a balanced and fair package.