Scotland: Same-sex marriages ‘could start by July’

Nick Duffy February 3, 2014
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Same-sex couples in Scotland may be able to start marrying sooner than expected, ministers have said.

Scotland’s equal marriage bill is due to be voted on by Holyrood on Tuesday, and is expected to be passed overwhelmingly.

The Sunday Herald reports that ministers are hoping the first marriages will take place by July, as long as the UK Government fast-tracks changes needed.

UK equality legislation has to be amended before marriages can begin in Scotland, and so Scottish ministers need the UK Government to help pass the changes through Westminster at full speed under the Scotland Act.

The potential July date means Scotland would have taken much less time to enact its equal legislation than England and Wales, as most necessary changes to British law have already been put in place.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act for England and Wales passed through Westminster last July, but marriages are not due to start until 29 March, a delay of nearly nine months.

However, a Scottish Government source told the Herald that “the autumn would be a reasonable time”.

Tom French of the Equality Network said: “If our MSPs pass the equal marriage bill on Tuesday, 2014 will be a milestone year for equality in Scotland.

“We know many couples across the country are looking forward to planning their wedding and it’s great news that their big day may now come about rather sooner than expected.”

Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil is expected to announce the timetable for enacting the law on Tuesday.

Scotland’s equal marriage bill overwhelmingly passed its first reading in November, with 98 votes for and just 15 against.

Last month a Scottish parliamentary committee removed a provision from the bill that required married trans people to have their spouse’s permission to legally change gender, despite the same clause passing in England and Wales.

More: Alex Salmond, Civil partnerships, equal marriage, gay marriage, gay wedding, holyrood, lesbian marriage, lesbian wedding, marriage, marriage equality, parliament, same sex marriage, Same-sex wedding, Scotland, Scotland, Scottish, scottish national party, SNP, wedding

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