The head of the Episcopal Church in Scotland has given his support to the consultation on marriage equality.

The Most Rev David Chillingworth wrote that it is the government’s right to legislate for the change.

Writing in the Scotsman, he hinted that his own church may “consider changing our canonical definition of marriage”.

He wrote: “If, following the consultation period, the Scottish government and parliament feel that they should legislate in this way, I believe that it is their right to do so.

“It is clear that there would be an ‘opt-out’ protection for those who cannot accept this. Churches and faith groups would have to decide whether they wished to use or to stand outside the provisions of such legislation.

“The suggestion has been made that the Scottish government does not have a mandate to introduce legislation which is of such fundamental significance for our society.

“Jesus did not call the church into being as a citadel of orthodoxy. He was constantly criticised because he spent time with people who didn’t fit the conventional patterns and were deemed unacceptable by others.”

Representatives from the Unitarians, Liberal Jews, Quakers, the Metropolitan Community Church and the Pagan Federation have already called for the right to celebrate gay weddings.

Earlier this week, the Very Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, said he was “embarrassed” by the remarks of Catholic leaders on gay marriage.

Rev Holdsworth’s remarks follow criticism by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who said Catholic leaders were trying to “impose” their own views.

Speaking on Saturday to the Scottish Liberal Democrat party conference, Mr Rennie said that Catholic bishops’ moves to scupper gay marriage plans were “an affront to liberal democracy”.