The Scottish Parliament will later hold a crucial debate and vote on Scotland’s equal marriage legislation.

The Stage One vote on the country’s same-sex marriage bill is in many respects the most important vote because it will reveal for the first time whether a majority of MSPs supporting introducing equal marriage, or whether they will reject the bill.

Yesterday, Scotland’s Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, Alasdair Allan, said he would not vote in favour of the bill – but he still expects it to pass.

The Scottish National Party minister said: “I have pointed out that I am supportive of the existing rights of same-sex couples to civil partnerships, and that I welcome the belated respect which society rightly gives gay people, but that I believe difficult issues are raised around the specific question of marriage.”

According to the Equality Network, 97 out of 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament have already pledged to vote in favour of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill.

If all goes according to plan, a Stage 3 vote is likely to happen in January or February.

The Equality Network, the Scottish LGBT equality charity that runs the Equal Marriage campaign, will hold a final push rally outside the Scottish Parliament at 1pm.

Policy Coordinator for the Equality Network, Tom French, said: “Today the Scottish Parliament has the historic opportunity to stand up for a fairer and more equal Scotland by voting for this milestone legislation. As the polls show, the large majority of people in Scotland believe it’s time LGBT people had full equality, including the right to marry the person they love. We urge MSPs to get behind this Bill, which will remove discrimination from the law and send out an important message about the kind of country we are.”