The Scottish Government has hit back at claims that legalising equal marriage in Scotland has taken longer than in England because of the Scottish National Party’s pro-independence campaign.

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party and the UK’s most senior gay politician said in a PinkNews interview that it was highly likely that Scotland’s Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill would soon pass – but that the process could have happened a lot sooner.

“I am not in charge of the Scottish Government’s timetabling,” Ms Davidson said to PinkNews.co.uk. “What I can say is that, with this bill, as with any number of subjects in Scotland, there’s a lot in Scotland that’s not happening right now because the entire focus in the government is on the referendum in September next year.”

In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk: “These claims are wrong. The legislation for same-sex marriage is proceeding on schedule as planned, and with wide cross-party support.

“The Scottish Government has undertaken two detailed consultations on the issue of same sex marriage, the second of which only finished in March 2013. Given the sensitive nature of same sex marriage, it was important to make sure that we got the legislation right.

“In our Programme for Government announced in September 2012, we committed to introducing the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in the 2012/13 parliamentary year. The bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 26 June 2013, therefore meeting our commitment.”

The spokesperson added: “Once a bill is introduced, its timetable is a matter for the Parliament. However, the Scottish Government is continuing to work hard to try to ensure that the bill passes as soon as possible.

MSPs are due to take part in the first debate and vote on the bill next week.