Current Affairs

Scottish campaigners step up pressure for full marriage equality

Jessica Geen July 22, 2010
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Gay rights campaigners in Scotland are putting pressure on the Scottish government to grant full marriage equality to gay couples.

A cross-party coalition of MSPs and some senior church leaders are supporting the campaign and a poll of the public suggests the majority would support the move.

The Equal Marriage Campaign is pushing for the government to support a public consultation on same-sex marriage.

It is supported by a number of gay groups, individual SNP and Labour MSPs, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats.

MSPs who are supporting it include Patrick Harvie, Robin Harper and Bill Wilson.

Activists believe that the Scottish government does have the power to grant full marriage equality, but Westminster must make a minor technical change to tax and immigrant laws.

Tim Hopkins, of the Equality Network, which is part of the campaign, said that two petitions on the issue had been submitted to the Public Petitions Committee and the next step would be to pressure the Scottish government to open up debate on the issue when parliament returns in September.

He told “The key thing now is public debate. We want the government to take a lead on the issue and set up a working group to look at it.”

A Scottish Green Party poll of 1,000 Scottish adults in April found that 58 per cent agreed that gay couples should have the right to marry, while 19 per cent disagreed.

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, told the Herald he was supportive of the idea.

He said: “This is about justice for everyone. Civil partnerships have been a wonderful thing, but they are not equal; being separate isn’t being equal and the government would be wise to move towards equality as soon as possible.”

Today, the newspaper ran an editorial calling civil partnerships a “second-class arrangement compared with marriage”.

Robert Brown, Liberal Democrat MSP for Glasgow, said: “I would be surprised if there weren’t a commitment to legislate on this in the next Holyrood parliament.

“There’s a time and a place to deal with these things and I think the time and the place are here and now.”

The UK government said recently it would undertake a consultation of allowing full marriage equality.

Prime minister David Cameron has said he would consider the change, while bisexual Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes said this week: “The state ought to give equality. We’re halfway there. I think we ought to be able to get there in this parliament.”

More: Scotland

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