• MySTV

Same-sex marriage becomes law after vote in Scottish Parliament

Gay rights campaigners celebrate 'historic moment for equality' as same-sex marriage Bill passed.

Equal Marriage supporters outside Holyrood, February 4 2014

Scotland has followed England and Wales in changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill passed its third stage in a free vote at the Scottish Parliament as MSPs voted 105-18 in favour.

The vote means Northern Ireland is now the only country in the UK that does not permit gay people to marry.

After the vote was passed, Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "This is a historic moment for equality in Scotland.

“I am proud that the Scottish Parliament has taken this progressive and hugely important decision in favour of equal rights in our country.

“It is right that same sex couples should be able to freely express their love and commitment to each other through getting married. Marriage is about love, and that has always been at the heart of this issue.

“That was the clear message from Scotland’s Parliament today. We must no longer allow same sex couples who wish to get married to be barred from doing so.

“Thanks to this bill, same sex couples now have the same access to marriage — one of our most important institutions — as everyone else.

“There has been overwhelming support for this Bill from the beginning and many MSPs from across the political spectrum have expressed considered, personal opinions.

“We now need to work quickly and in close co-operation with Westminster on implementation. On that basis, I very much look forward to seeing the first same sex marriages taking place in Scotland as soon as is possible.”The issue had polarised public opinion between supporters who championed it as a move towards equality and opponents who raised concerns about the impact on religious freedom.

Scotland becomes the 19th country in the world in which gay marriage is permitted in all or part of its jurisdiction. Legislation to allow gay marriage in England and Wales was passed at Westminster in July 2013.

Same-sex marriage is also legal in Argentina, Denmark, The Netherlands, South Africa, Belgium, New Zealand, Spain, Brazil, France, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Iceland, Portugal and Uruguay. In the United States and Mexico marriage is regulated at a state level, with some states allowing same-sex marriage and others restricting the right to opposite-sex couples.

The Scottish Parliament's Bill also allows couples to convert their civil partnerships to marriages.

Critics attempted to add last-minute amendments to extend protections to religious groups.

SNP MSP John Mason had hoped to alter the legislation to ensure no one is "compelled by any means" to solemnise gay marriage.

His was the first of a series of backbench amendments seeking to bolster protection in the Bill for freedom of expression.

"If the Parliament accepts none of these amendments this afternoon, we are sending out a signal that we've not been listening," he argued.

However, the Scottish Health Secretary said the legislation already protected celebrants who do not want to take part in ceremonies.

Mr Neil conceded that churches have concerns, but told the Scottish Parliament: "There are robust protections for religious bodies and celebrants in the Bill and in the planned amendments to the Equality Act."

Mr Mason's amendment was defeated in a 96-21 vote as MSPs picked their way through the final stage of the Bill before it can become law.

As politicians debated in the parliament, supporters rallied outside ahead of the vote.

The Humanist Society of Scotland marked the occasion by offering to conduct free conversion ceremonies for the first 100 same-sex couples who want to be married but are currently in civil partnerships.

Humanist celebrant Ross Wright said: "I've had the privilege of conducting wedding ceremonies for both heterosexual and homosexual couples, and for me, the only difference has been the gender of the dolls on the cake."

More than 50 ministers and church officials wrote to the Scottish Government at the weekend to express their "deep concern" over the proposed law.

Scotland for Marriage, a group set up to oppose the Bill, said more than 54,000 people had signed its petition by Monday evening.

In total, 105 MSPs voted Yes. There were no abstentions but five MSPs did not vote.

The following 18 MSPs voted No: Dr Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar: SNP), Gavin Brown (Lothian: Con), Roseanna Cunningham (Perthshire South and Kinross-shire: SNP), Fergus Ewing (Inverness and Nairn: SNP), Alex Fergusson (Galloway and West Dumfries: Con), Murdo Fraser (Mid Scotland and Fife: Con), Alex Johnstone (North East Scotland: Con), Richard Lyle (Central Scotland: SNP), Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East: SNP), John Mason (Glasgow Shettleston: SNP), Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands: Con), Michael McMahon (Uddingston and Bellshill: Lab), Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland: Lab), Nanette Milne (North East Scotland: Con), Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland: Con), Elaine Smith (Coatbridge and Chryston: Lab), Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife: Con), Dave Thompson (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch: SNP).

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.



Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.