Robert Stewart, an SNP member for 22 years has resigned over Scottish party leaders’ decision to push forward on marriage equality for gay couples in Scotland.

Stewart, 66, former secretary of the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency association, attacked Alex Salmond, First Minister, and described his handling of the issue as if he were in an “elected dictatorship,” reports the Express.

He said: “It is not an SNP manifesto commitment and I simply cannot understand how the SNP have a democratic mandate either from the party or from the nation to make such a fundamental change to a centuries-old institution.”

An SNP spokesperson responded: “We fully recognize that Mr Stewart has strong views on this issue and we respect his decision. The SNP have long promoted tolerance and equality, and the proposed legislation does fit with those principles.

“Of course, same-sex marriage is supported by the leaderships of all parties in the Scottish Parliament, as well as by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition Government at Westminster, and the standard responses to the Scottish Government’s consultation were actually two-to-one in favour.”

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described the move towards marriage equality as: “The right thing to do.”