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Scottish campaigners step up pressure for full marriage equality

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  1. John(Derbyshire) 22 Jul 2010, 11:53am

    Since religious fundamentalist Brian Souter bankrolls the SNP – can`t seeing the Scottish parliament doing this any time soon.

  2. Tim Hopkins 22 Jul 2010, 12:07pm

    The Scottish Government doesn’t completely control what the Scottish Parliament can legislate on. The Member’s Bill system allows any MSP to introduce a bill, after public consultation, if 18 other MSPs support it. But then of course you have to get a majority of MSPs to vote for it! Of course it’s much easier to do if the Scottish Govt support the bill.

    In practice there can’t be any legislation on this issue before the next Scottish Parliament election in May 2011. Who knows what party or parties will be in government after that.

  3. I agree with John in comment no.1. It’s not just Brian Souter funding the SNP that’s a worry, it’s the fact that they’ve already changed policy to suit his business interest by dropping their bus re-regulation policy. Also, there are all the other incidences of homophobia that have occured in the SNP over the last few years that have been ignored by the party leadership and membership. In some cases the SNP government has directly intervened to implement homophobia as in the case of St. Margaret’s adoption agency in Glasgow or the decision by Strathclyde Fire & Rescue issue and apology and damages to one of the firefighters who refused to attend Gay Pride. Is it a coincidence that Fergus Ewing is the miister responsible for the Fire Service? What about Roseanna Cunningham tabling an ammendment to make it illegal for same sex couples to adopt? She was rewarded with a minsisterial job a couple of years later. Also, they had a candidate in the recent general election who had links to homophobic websites on his blog. I understand he’s also standing in the Scottish election next year. By the way, I’m not a Labour party stooge, I used to vote SNP but stopped doing so because of their acceptance of homophobia while supposedly being a left-wing party. I have been in contact with various people within the SNP over the last year or so about these matters, but they aren’t even acknowledged.

  4. I have a feeling that we may not need to worry about the SNP because I doubt very much if they will get in next May. If they get in at all it will only be by coalition – they certainly will not have an overall majority.

    Scottish Legislation in many areas is distinct from Westminster legislation and the Scottish Parliament has an absolute right to legislate on those issues which are devolved – Westminster cannot interfere with them. Only reserved issues come under the jurisdiction of Westminster.

  5. Greta Green here we come!

  6. Even if the SNP do lose at next year’s Scottish election, it won’t change the fact that St. Margaret’s adoption agency is legally allowed to discriminate against gay people,. due to FIona Hyslop helping them to do so, and that Strathclyde firefighters can discriminate against gay people thanks to the precedent set over giving damages to the guy who refused to go to Gay Pride. These things won’t be changed if another party comes to power, the SNP have presided over discrimination to gay people and in fact, even perpetrated it. That’s the legacy they’ll leave in Scotland.

  7. Tim Hopkins 22 Jul 2010, 3:29pm

    ScotsBam you’re mistaken about the law regarding St Margaret’s. That law is reserved to the UK Parliament, and the clear intention of the law is that it bans St Margaret’s from discriminating. Unfortunately the law was badly worded, and so there is a legal argument underway in England. That involves a Catholic adoption agency in Leeds. The result will give an indication of whether it will then be possible to take St Margaret’s to court to stop them discriminating.

    The SNP Government have indicated that they want the law changed to specifically allow St Margaret’s to continue to discriminate. That is quite wrong of course and hugely disappointing for a Govt that says it supports LGBT equality. But luckily they have no power to do that, because it’s not a devolved issue.

    So what we really need is for the UK Govt to amend the law to put beyond doubt that discrimination by religious bodies providing public services that are paid out of taxpayers money, is not allowed.

    The Equality Act 2010 does update the wording of the law in this area, so when it comes into effect in October it should help.

  8. Tim, No.7 – Fiona Hyslop advised St. Margaret’s to apply to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator to change their constitution so they wouldn’t need to comply with the Goods and Services (sexual Orientation ) Act. The OSCR granted St. Margaret’s permission to change their constituition and they are allowd to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds. I had written to one of my Regional MSP’s who sent me letter from the Scottish Government who confirmed that this was the case and that they were happy with it as they had to balance equality for gay people with religious rights.

  9. Tim Hopkins 22 Jul 2010, 4:12pm

    Your MSP slightly misinformed you (having apparently been misinformed by the Scottish Govt). It’s true that St Margaret’s changed their constitution, having taken advice from the Scottish Govt, and OSCR approved the change.

    But that does not mean it’s lawful for them to discriminate. No doubt they claim that it does mean they can discriminate, but the specific intention of the law is to disallow organisations from discriminating, whatever their constitution says.

    Unfortunately, because of the loose wording of the law, this can only be decided in court. But if the law is interpreted by the court to mean what the UK Govt intended it to mean, when it was introduced in 2007, then LGBT equality would win in court over St Margaret’s new constitution.

    The main part of the law is absolutely clear – religious adoption agencies had to stop discriminating by the end of 2008. St Margaret’s (and the Leeds agency) are attempting to take advantage of a claimed (by them) possible loophole that we didn’t spot at the time.

    None of which is to disagree with your criticism of the Scottish Govt’s part in this business, but just to point out that both the Scottish Govt and your MSP have been too generous to St Margaret’s in declaring them legal, and has misunderstood the legal situation.

  10. A point of order here. Brian Souter does not bank roll the SNP anymore. He publicly refused to donate to the party at the last election.

  11. Tim, if that’s the case then St. Margaret’s are illegally discriminating against LGBT people at present and will carry on doing so unless someone takes them to court. My main point about it is that the SNP are supposed to be a left-wing party in favour of gay equality yet they’ve presided over more than one case like this where people are allowed to discriminate agianst LGBT people citing religious beliefs (such as the Stratchclyde firefighters). As a former SNP voter, it worries me how far they could go in the future, especially if Scotland ever does become independent.

  12. Tim Hopkins 22 Jul 2010, 5:02pm

    ScotsBam you’re right – it looks like a court case will be the only way to clarify the law and to stop St Margaret’s discriminating. Unless the outcome of the Leeds case currently underway is eventually so overwhelmingly against that adoption agency being allowed to discriminate that St Margaret’s realise the game is up.

    Or perhaps they’ll do what the other Scottish Catholic adoption agency, St Andrew’s in Edinburgh, chose to do, which is to comply with the law and accept same-sex couples. Possibly because they realised that it was the right thing to do for the welfare of children seeking adoptive families, as well as a legal requirement. But I’m not holding my breath on that one!

  13. Noone can disagree that the SNP government has disappointed on LGBT rights, however let’s not dismiss everyone from that cohort as there are numerous SNP elected officials and candidates supportive of LGBT rights and partnership equality.

    It’s good to see Robert Brown MSP (Lib Dem) being somewhat more supportive on marriage equality as he was distinctly lukewarm, though not averse, when NUS had their Scots Parly equal marriage petition going, only several months ago.

  14. Alan, you’re right about there being people in the SNP who are committed to LGBT equality, and that’s all very well, but I’m constantly disappointed that they don’t criticise the leadership and the homophobic elements within the SNP, which I think is just as bad as being openly homophobic. It’s hypocritical being committed to gay equality yet staying silent when your party undermines it. I say this as a former SNP supporter and voter.

  15. The fundamental point I will always argue, which is black and white, is how can you have a society where the gay man or woman puts in the SAME tax money and national insurance contributions as the straight man/woman from his/her paypacket, money which goes into the Treasury and abides by the same laws of the land but he/she cannot have the same marriage benefits as a straight taxpayer, not even when some of that taxpaying money goes towards the upkeep of churches and registry offices, and yet gay people are excluded from the benefits of that which in theory they contribute towards, like everyone else. This is the underlying point which cannot be ignored.

    To do this in a modern society goes against the British idea of fair play and equality. We won’t include our own taxpaying law abiding gay citizens but yet we let the anti-gay Pope stride into this country and bring all his bigotry and scandal with him ON our taxpaying money as well, I might add.

  16. George Broadhead, PTT 23 Jul 2010, 9:11am

    “Some senior church leaders are supporting the campaign”, but the only one quoted about it is the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow. Since the Scottish Episcopalians, like their Armerican counterparts, ignore the Biblical strictures and are gay friendly, this is predictable. but what about the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church and the minority Scottish Churches?

  17. Tim Hopkins 23 Jul 2010, 9:53am

    Hi George! In terms of religious groups, the campaign in Scotland has so far been actively supported by the Metropolitan Community Church, the Unitarian Church, the Quakers, the Pagan Federation, and the main Liberal Jewish Community.

    Of course the Humanist Society of Scotland also supports it – as you know, in Scotland, humanist celebrants can conduct legally recognised marriages, under the “religious marriage” laws.

    Within the Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church, individual ministers have spoken out in favour, but those churches do not have organisational policy in favour.

    And of course the Roman Catholic Church continues to oppose. There is a big article about that in today’s Herald, here.

  18. I don’t understand why people use this to promote their British Nationalist agendas – “ScotsBam” says that failure to support the reactionary campaign to promote “”gay” marriage” makes the SNP somehow not left-wing when in fact the support for the “”gay” marriage” campaign is coming from the most reactionary, assimilationist, god-bothering elements in out so-called community/communities.

  19. Tim Hopkins 23 Jul 2010, 10:57am

    Eccles, in our survey of LGBT people on this issue, 430 responded, and 85% said that same-sex marriage is needed. 60% specified their religion as no religion, Atheist or Humanist. 31% specified Christian. The others specified a variety: mostly Buddhist, Jewish, Unitarian, Quaker and Pagan.

    Amongst Christian LGBT people, support for same-sex marriage was 77%. Amongst LGBT of no religion it was 91%.

    So LGBT equal marriage supporters can certainly not be accurately called “god-bothering”!

    Reactionary and assimilationist are much more matters of your opinion.

  20. Fair enough, only 160 of your pro “”gay” marriage” people said they were signed up to a particular cult whereas the other 240 said they were freelance fools but what percentage of glbt people would you say these 400 represent?

  21. Tim Hopkins 23 Jul 2010, 1:46pm

    They represent themselves. It is obviously not possible to ask every LGBT person in Scotland their opinion on this issue. As it happens, 430 respondents for a Scottish survey is proportionately larger than the majority of surveys of LGBT opinion in the UK.

    But in any case, it is not necessary to show that 85% of all LGBT people support marriage equality, for the case to be made. It’s about giving people the choices they want – and clearly there is a significant demand both for marriage and for civil partnership. Therefore both should be available to all couples regardless of gender. That would also allow the removal of the iniquitous requirement for trans people to divorce before they can get gender recognition.

  22. How very good to see Pink News using “Equal Marriage” instead of “Gay Marriage” at long last.

    Marriage is the ultimate equality issue for lesbian and gay people, which is why homophobes get so exercised about it. It makes us equally valued people, and our sexuality equal too. Unfortunately there are many other equality issues for sexual minorities that need sorting, but once equality in marriage is secure it becomes just a matter of tidying those up.

    > support for the “”gay” marriage” campaign is coming from
    > the most reactionary, assimilationist, god-bothering elements
    > in out so-called community/communities.

    Your are confused. Support for separate “gay marriage” may be coming form somewhere, but I don’t see any. Support for “Equal Marriage” comes from people who value equality and the freedom to live as one needs wherever one wants.

    Those who are afraid of that, and want people to be restricted to a ghetto life, separated from their families and the rest of society, are the ones being really reactionary. And of course they disclaim any responsibility for the many lives having such separate existence continue to be the only one possible would cost.

    The fact is that many people have always found ways to be different, so those who are fearful of losing “gay culture” have nothing to fear. It just won’t include people who were there unwillingly.

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