Church of Scotland could soon legalise same-sex marriage

a protester outside the church of england general synod

The majority of Church of Scotland leaders support the legalisation of religious same-sex marriage, according to a report to the 2022 General Assembly.

Ahead of the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, set to take place in Edinburgh from 21 to 26 May, a report has shown that 29 of 42 presbyteries support legislation which would allow ministers to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Following the report, the “Solemnisation of Same Sex Marriage Overture” will be put to commissioners at the General Assembly, who will decide whether church law should be changed.

The legislation allows for ministers to individually decide whether they want to conduct same-sex ceremonies, and none will be required to do so, however the Church of Scotland, also known as The Kirk, has asked that ministers consider “peace and unity and pastoral needs of the congregation and any parish or other grouping of which it is a part”.

Ministers who do wish to would apply to the principal clerk’s office to become a celebrant, and would be permitted to use church buildings for queer weddings.

If the Church of Scotland were to legalise same-sex religious ceremonies, it would put itself far ahead of the Church of England, which has been floundering over the issue of marriage equality for years.

The Church of England does not perform same-sex weddings or bless same-sex civil unions, and while LGBT+ clergy members are allowed to be in relationships, they must remain celibate.

In 2020, after three years, the Church of England finally published resources titled Living in Love and Faith to LGBT+ issues including “identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage”.

There had been hope that the resources might mark the first steps towards changes in church policy, but the Church of England has not committed to any changes, and insisted that further consultation would be needed. Finalised proposals are set to be brought to the General Synod in 2023.

Earlier this year, a YouGov poll, commissioned by the Ozanne Foundation, showed that a majority (55 per cent) of Anglicans in England believe that same-sex marriage is a right.