Highland Council: Civil registrars should not be able to refuse to marry same-sex couples
Highland Council has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on its proposed equal marriage bill by saying civil registrars should not be able to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
Along with England and Wales, Scotland is also pushing ahead with its own equal marriage bill in the Scottish Parliament.
Highland Council said it welcomed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill.
Council officers have tabled a draft response which will be considered by councillors next week.
On the question of “opt-outs”, officials said: “The law is clear that when someone is providing a public service, they cannot, because of their religion or belief, discriminate unlawfully against customers or service users.
“Registrars are employed to deliver a public function and may be required to solemnise same-sex marriages.
“This is similar to requirements that have been placed on some registrars since the Civil Partnerships Act 2004, meaning many have been required to perform civil partnerships as part of their duties.”
Last month, giving evidence to a committee of MPs that are studying the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission said it was right that Christian registrars should not be able to opt out of performing marriages for gay couples because registrars are deemed to be public officials.
The Equality Act 2010 states that it’s illegal to refuse to provide goods and services based upon a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.