Writing for PinkNews.co.uk, the Equality Network’s Tom French says tomorrow evening will hopefully be an opportunity to celebrate significant progress for LGBT rights in Scotland.
Tomorrow evening the Scottish Parliament will hold its final vote on Scotland’s equal marriage bill.
The ‘stage 3’ debate on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill will be the last opportunity for MSPs to make any amendments to the bill before they decide whether or not to pass it into law.
If the bill passes Scotland will become the 17th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage and give lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people an equal right to marry the person they love.
Having secured important changes to the bill since the initial draft was published back in 2012, we now stand to have one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world. Major victories such as the scrapping of the spousal veto and allowing the option of gender-neutral marriage ceremonies mean that Scotland’s legislation really will provide genuine marriage equality for all, including trans and intersex people. That’s why the Equality Network strongly believes this bill was well worth the wait.
This final vote on equal marriage will be a milestone moment in Scottish history. Thirty-four years after Scotland decriminalised homosexuality in 1980, our MSPs will have the chance to remove the final major piece of sexual orientation discrimination from Scots law, the last big step in the long journey towards full legal equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Scotland.
For trans and intersex people there is still more work to do in order to secure legal equality, and of course achieving equality under the law doesn’t guarantee an end to the barriers, prejudice and discrimination that LGBT people continue to face in society. So our work in all these areas must continue.
Nonetheless, tomorrow evening will hopefully bring an opportunity to celebrate significant progress, and it is fitting that this historic vote will take place during LGBT History Month, a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come as a society and to recognise all the work that generations of LGBT people in Scotland have put into fighting for equal rights over the course of many decades to get us to this point.
For our part, the Equality Network want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to the Equal Marriage campaign over the past six years, and all those who have supported our work for LGBT equality in Scotland over the past 17 years.
Whatever the outcome of tomorrow’s vote we know that everyone’s efforts have helped make a strong and positive case for equal marriage. Our politicians have seen the strength of feeling at the dozens of rallies, marches and events we’ve held, and they’ve received hundreds of thousands of emails, postcards, and consultation responses calling for equality.
In the last 24 hours we are urging supporters not to let the momentum slip. Please contact Scotland’s politicians one final time: www.equalmarriage.org.uk/itstime to ask them to pass the bill, and if you can make it please join us outside the Scottish Parliament at 1pm tomorrow for the final rally of the campaign!
Tom French is the Equality Network’s policy co-ordinator and tweets at @TomfromBrighton.