MSP welcomes result of Equal Marriage vote

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Independent Highland and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart has spoken of her delight at last week’s Holyrood vote for equal marriage, and congratulated the Government on creating strong protections for those with a religious objection.

On Wednesday 20th November, MSPs voted 98 to 15 to approve the general principles of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill.

There was also a clear majority of Highlands and Islands MSPs in favour, with 10 voting for the Bill, 3 against and 2 absent from the vote.

Ms Urquhart said: “Discrimination against same-sex couples is unconscionable and shameful – I can’t imagine the pain and frustration of being told by the state that you cannot marry the person you love. I was incredibly proud to cast my vote for equal marriage last week, and delighted that such an overwhelming number of MSPs, including two-thirds of my Highlands and Islands colleagues, did so too.

“The Bill promotes the religious freedom of denominations – such as Reform Judaism, Unitarians and Quakers – who wish to conduct same-sex marriages, while preserving that of religious groups who oppose them. In the dozens of countries that have adopted equal marriage laws, many of which are under the jurisdiction of the European Convention on Human Rights, not one has ever forced religious organisations to conduct same-sex unions.”

She added: “The protections written into this Bill mean that Scotland will be no different, though I hope in time more faith organisations will freely choose to end discrimination against same-sex couples.”

Highlands and Islands MSPs who voted for the Bill are Jean Urquhart (Ind, H&I), John Finnie (Ind, H&I), Mike MacKenzie (H&I), David Stewart (Lab, H&I), Rhoda Grant (Lab, H&I), Mary Scanlon (Con, H&I), Michael Russell (SNP, Argyll and Bute), Rob Gibson (SNP, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross), Richard Lochhead (SNP, Moray) and Liam McArthur (LD, Orkney Islands).

Highlands and Islands MSPs who voted against the Bill are Jamie McGrigor (Con, H&I), Alasdair Allan (Lab, Na h-Eileanan an Iar) and Fergus Ewing (SNP, Inverness and Nairn).