Scottish Equal Opportunities Committee approves equal marriage bill

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Legislation to introduce equal marriage in Scotland has been backed by a committee looking into the proposals.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill still needs to go through three stages of voting in the Scottish Parliament before it can become law.

A crucial Stage One vote on the principle of the bill will take place in the week starting 18 November.

If all goes according to plan, a Stage 3 vote is likely to happen in January or February.

The report concludes four months of evidence taking and consideration by the Equal Opportunities Committee.

Four amendments, proposed by the Equality Network and Scottish Transgender Alliance, received backing from the committee.

They include: calling on the Scottish Government to end the spousal veto on gender recognition; introducing simpler evidence requirements for long-term transitioned people; allowing the option of gender-neutral marriage ceremonies, and allowing people with foreign civil partnerships to get married in Scotland.

A fifth amendment: to change the minimum age for gender recognition to 16 in line with the age for marriage was rejected. The committee cited the need for greater consultation by the Scottish Government.

Under the bill, religious bodies would be able to opt in to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

The convener of the Equal Opportunities Committee, Labour MSP Margaret McCulloch, said: “All of us on the committee recognise the validity, depth and sincerity of all views submitted to us on what has clearly been an emotive issue.

“While the majority of our committee supports the general principles of this bill, we wholeheartedly support the right of all members of the Scottish Parliament to vote on the bill as a matter of conscience.”