Calls for protection to ministers who bless gay marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Ministers who bless civil partnerships will avoid disciplinary action under proposals to be suggested at the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly.

A report by the Kirk’s legal questions committee will propose that individual ministers should be allowed to decide whether they want to attend the events.

Since same sex civil partnerships came into law in December, ceremonies have been carried out by a registrar. But now it has emerged that some couples prefer a religious blessing, and in a handful of cases they have asked ministers to attend.

According to current Church of Scotland rules, disciplinary action could be taken against an official attending a civil partnership ceremony, which may even lead to them being censured.

The Reverend Ian McLean, acting convener of the committee, said they wanted to make sure ministers couldn’t be punished. He said: “If couples approach ministers asking for their civil partnership to be recognised in some way, this will make sure they are not committing a disciplinary offence.”

“This is asking the General Assembly to clarify that no-one would take action against ministers.”

The report acknowledges that the topic is controversial and says the new rule should recognise that some ministers will not want to take part in the ceremonies.

It hopes the change will “protect conscience on all sides”. The report will go before the assembly in May.

In the past, the Kirk has been split on gay issues such as civil partnerships, gay adoption and gay priests.