WESTERN Isles MSP Alasdair Allan says he is ‘unlikely to support’ a bill to legalise gay marriage when it comes before the Scottish Parliament later this year.
Although an SNP MSP and also Scotland’s Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, Dr Allan looks set to go against the Scottish Government’s intention to allow same sex marriage.
He said this was due to the very strong concerns voiced by some people and churches in the Western Isles.
He said: “I have certainly had a lot of correspondence from individuals in the constituency and I’m taking on board what they have said. My view is to support civil partnerships and I would certainly defend the right of people in civil partnerships to live without discrimination and prejudice.
“The difference is this situation is that people have made very clear that they are not reassured by safeguards around areas to do with existing rights of churches not to participate. I have to reflect the views of people in the constituency. I will study the bill but I think I am unlikely to support it in the chamber.”
Dr Allan added: “The level of responses certainly indicates the depth of feeling on both sides of the argument. I am trying to give it a great deal of thought, I can’t please everyone but I think in this one the constituency has made the view clear.”
The Scottish Government announced last week that following their consultation, they intended to legislate to allow same sex marriage. They also stressed this legislation would be accommpanied by protections for freedom of speech and religion and that an amendment to the Equality Act would be required.
No religious body would be compelled to conduct same sex marriages and that even when a body did decide to conduct same sex marriages, the legislation would also protect individual celebrants who consider such ceremonies to be contrary to their faith.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal and that is why we intend to proceed with plans to allow same sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships. We believe that this is the right thing to do.”
She added that there was cross-party support for the legislation and the leaders of all other parties support same sex marriage.
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Johann Lamont, who visited Stornoway on Tuesday, is also in support of proposal.
The plans by the Scottish Government have not, however, been welcomed by Scotland’s churches.
The Church of Scotland re-iterated its opposition to same-sex marriage following the announcement by the Scottish Government. It also expresses concerns about the speed with which this is proceeding and what it sees as inadequate safeguards for religious bodies who view this as being contrary to their beliefs.
The Free Church of Scotland also voiced their concern and said the move did not reflect the outcome of the consultation.
A Free Church of Scotland spokesman said: “In their tens of thousands the Scottish public have given a definitive ‘no’ to the Scottish Government’s proposals for gay marriage.
“The Scottish Government’s decision to press ahead with these plans is astounding given the huge number of Scots who have said that they do not want marriage to be redefined.
“With the Scottish Government riding roughshod over the clear opposition to same sex marriage expressed within the consultation, the whole exercise has been completely meaningless.
“Not only are the Scottish Government redefining marriage, but obviously redefining what consultation means as well.”
The Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) also condemned the move and said they would continue to fight against the proposal.
Despite this opposition the decision has been warmly welcomed by many organisations and people throughout Scotland and beyond.