Scotland set date for first Equal Marriages

Besi Besemar October 13, 2014

First same-sex weddings will take place on Hogmanay!


THIS MORNING, October 13, at an Equality Network celebration event held in Edinburgh, The Scottish Government announced the date when the first same-sex marriage ceremony will take place in Scotland. The Equality Network, is Scotlands Scottish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality charity.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 will come into force on December 16 and, following the usual 15 day notice period for marriages, the first same-sex weddings will take place on December 31 2014.

Following Equality Network campaigning, the Scottish Government have also announced that couples who wish to convert their existing civil partnerships to marriage will be able to do so, free of charge, as soon as the law comes into force on December 16 by making an appointment with a registry office for a simple administrative process. Alternatively, couples can convert through a full marriage ceremony from December 31– in that case the usual marriage fees will apply.

For married transgender people, today’s announcement also brought the welcome news that from December 16 they will no longer be forced to divorce the person they love before they are allowed to have the gender they live as recognised in law. Furthermore, because there is no ‘spousal veto’ on gender recognition in Scotland, the decision of a married trans person to get legal recognition of their gender will be respected as their human right, and not a decision that can be blocked by a spouse.

Alex Neil MSP
Alex Neil MSP

Speaking at the event, Alex Neil, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, said: “It is wonderful that same-sex couples can now begin to make plans to have their marriage just as any other couple can. This historic legislation had overwhelming support across the Scottish Parliament, demonstrating to the world how importantly Scotland views equality. That support means that, from 31 December, same-sex couples who want to show their love and commitment to each other could get married in front of family and friends at a ceremony they choose together. This will be an important signal that our nation is absolutely committed to the same rights for all our citizens. It will be a proud and no doubt emotional day for many, and I, for one, can’t wait.”

Tom French
Tom French

Tom French, Policy and Public Affairs Coordinator for the Equality Network, added: “We are very pleased that after years of campaigning for equal marriage it is now just weeks away from becoming a reality. Today’s milestone announcement means that same-sex couples across Scotland will be able to set a date and start planning their weddings. With the first ceremonies set to take place on Hogmanay, Scotland can be proud that we will bring in the new year as a fairer and more equal country.”

“December 31 2014 will be a date that is remembered for many years to come, and a profoundly emotional day for those couples who celebrate their commitment to each other, and for all LGBTI people who grew up in a country where being gay was still criminalised until 1981. Scotland is now a leader on LGBTI equality, with one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world. There is still more to do to ensure full equality in people’s day-to-day lives, but this year we have taken a huge leap forward towards creating the fair and equal Scotland we all want to see.”

Jerry Slater (58) and Larry Lamont (81), a same-sex couple from Kirkcudbright, said: “Having spent much of our lives with laws that discriminated against us, we are overjoyed that the date for the first same-sex marriages is now in sight. There were times in the past when Larry and I were made to feel like second-class citizens in our own country, and many years when we never thought it possible that one day we would be able to marry. It goes to show how much Scotland has changed for the better, and we are proud to say that after more than twenty years together we are very much looking forward to our wedding day.”

In February, Scotland became the 17th country in the world to pass same-sex marriage legislation when the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 achieved an overwhelming majority of 105 to 18 in the Scottish Parliament. The Act received Royal Assent in March and since then the Scottish Government has been working on the secondary legislation required to bring the new law into force.

Scotland is one of a growing number of countries around the world that allow same-sex marriage, including the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Portugal (2008), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Argentina (2010), Iceland (2010), Denmark (2012), France (2013), New Zealand (2013), Uruguay (2013), Brazil (2013), England and Wales (2013), Luxembourg (2014), and many parts of the USA and Mexico.

Opinion polls have shown consistent public support for same-sex marriage across Scotland. A poll conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Equality Network in June 2012 showed record support with 64% of Scots in favour of same-sex marriage, and just 26% opposed. Separate polls conducted over the past four years by Populus, YouGov, Angus Reid, and the independent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, have all shown similar levels of support.