In a speech this evening at a reception for the Equality Network, Scotland’s Health Secretary will encourage Members of the Scottish Parliament to vote for equal marriage.

Alex Neil will say: “At the heart of this issue there is one simple fact, a marriage is about love, not gender. I believe it’s essential that everyone in Scotland knows they have the same rights and privileges, and the same ability to get married.”

“I think it’s right that our national Parliament takes this opportunity to send a clear signal that in modern Scotland we are passionate promoters and defenders of equality. And I am greatly encouraged that MSPs from across the chamber have indicated that they will vote for the bill.”

The crucial Stage One vote on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is expected to take place this month.

If passed at Stage Three, the bill will remove the final major piece of sexual orientation discrimination from Scots law and allow same-sex couples to marry.

At least 89 out of 129 MSPs have stated their support for the bill including all cabinet ministers, the leaders of each of the four parties and every Liberal Democrat MSP.

Over 500 LGBT people from across Scotland are expected to attend Tuesday evening’s reception in the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs from across the political parties are also attending.

The reception will celebrate sixteen years of the Equality Network, which was established in 1997.

In June, Alex Neil recorded a video for the Equality Network’s It’s Time video campaign, designed to bolster support for marriage equality in Scotland.