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Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014

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Title: Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014  
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Subject: LGBT rights in the United Kingdom, Same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom, Civil partnership in the United Kingdom, Same-sex union legislation, Bristol Pride
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Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014

Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014
Long title An Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for the marriage of persons of the same sex; to make further provision as to the persons who may solemnise marriage and as to marriage procedure and the places at which civil marriages may be solemnised; to make provision for the registration of civil partnerships by celebrants of religious or belief bodies; to make provision about gender change by married persons and civil partners; to make a minor correction in relation to registration information; and for connected purposes.
Citation asp 5
Introduced by Alex Neil
Territorial extent Scotland
Royal Assent 12 March 2014
Commencement SS 34–37 inclusive - 13 March 2014
Other legislation
Relates to Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977
Civil Partnership Act 2004
Status: Current legislation
History of passage through Parliament
Text of statute as originally enacted

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 (asp 5) is an Act of the Scottish Parliament which allows same-sex couples to marry in Scotland since 16 December 2014.

The bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 26 June 2013 by Alex Neil MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. The bill passed Stage 3 on 4 February 2014.[1] It received Royal Assent on 12 March 2014.[2]

The Act does not contain provisions to allow existing civil partnerships registered in Scotland to be converted into marriage, but includes provision for its later introduction into law;[3] it will permit those already in civil partnership with one another to marry without first dissolving the mutual civil partnership.[4]


As marriage is neither reserved nor excepted to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Scottish Parliament has legislative competence to make changes to marriage law.[5]

In January 2009, a petition was drawn up by [9] The petition closed on 6 March, having gathered 1007 signatures.[10][11]

On 17 March 2009, the Petitions Committee unanimously agreed to question the Scottish Government on whether and when it planned to amend the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 to allow same sex marriages. They also requested that a reason be provided if an amendment could not be considered.[12][13]

In March 2009, shortly before submission of the LGBT Network's petition to the Scottish Parliament, [14] The petition closed on 1 September 2009, having gathered 1,317 signatures.[15] On 8 September the Petitions Committee convened after a summer recess, and agreed to contact the Government seeking responses to specific points raised in both petitions and the discussion.[16][17]

On 1 December 2009, the Petitions Committee decided to seek a meeting between a government minister and the petitioners, as well as enquire as to whether the Government might consider setting up an advisory committee of interested parties.[18] The Government rejected the petition, as legalising same-sex marriage in Scotland only would require changes in non-devolved matters such as the areas of immigration, pensions and inheritance law all of which would have to be done at national level.[19] The head of the government's equality unit Hilary Third said that although from an equalities point of view "equal marriage is where we want to be" it would be a "difficult situation" if same-sex marriage was legal in Scotland but not England.[20] In 2011 Her Majesty's Government announced a consultation on the legalising of same-sex marriage in England and Wales would be held, and it began in March 2012.


From September – December 2011 the Scottish Government held a consultation on the issue after the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found 64% of Scots not to be in favour of legalising same-sex marriages in Scotland. Despite the consultation result, the legislation was introduced. The consultation offered consideration on both removing religious prohibitions for civil partnerships and also legalising same-sex marriage within that country.[21] In the foreword to the consultation document, Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon stated
"The Scottish Government is choosing to make its initial views clear at the outset of this consultation. We tend towards the view that religious ceremonies for civil partnerships should no longer be prohibited and that same sex marriage should be introduced so that same sex couples have the option of getting married if that is how they wish to demonstrate their commitment to each other. We also believe that no religious body or its celebrants should be required to carry out same sex marriages or civil partnership ceremonies."[22]

Unlike the English and Welsh Consultation, the one for Scotland dealt with the issue of same-sex marriage in a religious context. On 10 December 2011, The Scotsman newspaper reported that some 50,000 responses had been received from within Scotland.[23] In reality, when counting was finished, the total stood at 77,508. The Government presented the results and analysis of the consultation in July 2012. Respondents who opposed the introduction of same sex marriage were in the majority, with 67%.[24][25] However, 14,869 (19%) of responses came from outside of Scotland and 26,383 (34%) were submitted by a pre-printed postcard rather than via the Consultation form.

Passage through Parliament

On 25 July 2012 the Scottish Government announced it would bring forward legislation to legalise both civil and religious same-sex marriage in Scotland. The Government reiterated its intention to ensure that no religious group or individual member of the clergy would be forced to conduct such ceremonies; it also stated its intention to work with Westminster to make necessary changes to the Equality Act to ensure that this would be guaranteed.[26][27]

On 27 June 2013, the Scottish Government introduced the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament.[28][29] LGBT rights campaigners, celebrating outside the UK parliament on 15 July 2013 for the clearance of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the House of Lords, declared that they would continue the campaign to extend same-sex marriage rights to both Scotland and Northern Ireland.[30]

The majority of the members of the Scottish Parliament have declared their support for same-sex marriage, including the leader of each party in Parliament: Alex Salmond (SNP; First Minister of Scotland), Johann Lamont (Labour), Ruth Davidson (Conservative), Willie Rennie (Liberal Democrats) and Patrick Harvie (Green).[31]

The bill was fast-tracked through the Scottish Parliament with the aim of achieving Royal Assent for the legislation by March 2014.[32] The Equal Opportunities Committee considered the bill from 5 September to 7 November, with a report published on 8 November. On 20 November, the bill passed Stage 1 with a 98 to 15 vote and 5 abstentions.[33] Of the 98 MSPs that voted "yes" on the bill, 52 were members of the Scottish National Party, 31 were members of the Labour Party, 7 were members of the Conservative Party, 4 were members of the Liberal Democrats Party, 2 were members of the Green Party, and 2 were Independents.[34] Of the 15 MSPs that voted "no" on the bill, 6 were members of the Scottish National Party, 8 were members of the Conservative Party, and 1 was a member of the Labour Party.[34] Of the 5 MSPs that abstained, 2 were members of the Scottish National Party, and 3 were members of the Labour Party.[34]

The bill returned to the Equal Opportunities Committee for Stage 2. The Committee considered the bill on 19 December 2013, rejecting several amendments proposed by opponents of the legislation.[35] The Committee continued Stage 2 on 16 January 2014.[36] The final Stage 3 debate and vote was held on 4 February 2014. The bill was approved with 105 MSPs in favour and 18 opposed, with no abstentions.[37] The bill received Royal Assent on 12 March 2014[38] and the first same-sex marriages occurred on 16 December 2014, for partners in a civil partnership who converted into marriage.[39][40][41]

See also


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  21. ^ Scotsman newspaper 3 Sep 2011: Holyrood consults
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  28. ^ Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill
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  34. ^ a b c
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