All religious institutions – including the Church of Scotland – will be free to decide for themselves if they would like to provide marriages for gay couples, under plans announced today.
The move comes after the UK Government yesterday unveiled its formal plans to allow gay couples to marry in England and Wales from 2013.
However, the Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages – a decision that has already been criticised by equality campaigners along with the Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan.
The Scottish Government has ruled out introducing similar conditions for the nation’s Presbyterian church, although SNP ministers insist that no churches would be forced to hold same-sex weddings.
Ministers have already decided they want to make the change, and now need to consult on proposed legislation to be put to the Scottish Parliament.
The consultation on its draft legislation – opposed by the Church of Scotland and the nation’s Catholic Church – will last until March.