A coalition of faith groups and religious leaders have today
launched a new campaign to lift the ban on religious same-sex
marriages in Scotland.
The Faith in Marriage campaign was launched outside the Scottish
Parliament, where representatives handed over an open letter to
MSPs demanding the right to conduct same-sex marriages.
Members of the Faith in Marriage coalition include the United
Reformed Church, the Unitarians, the Quakers, the Open Episcopal
Church, the Metropolitan Community Church, Liberal Judaism, the
Humanists, the Iona Community, Buddhists, and the Pagan Federation.
In addition, Ministers from the Church of Scotland and the Scottish
Episcopal Church have thrown their personal support behind the
As the law stands, all faith groups are prohibited from
solemnising same-sex marriages regardless of their religious
beliefs. The Faith in Marriage coalition says this is
discriminatory and "an unacceptable infringement by the State on
our freedom of religion and belief."
The coalition agrees that religious bodies that do not wish to
conduct same-sex marriages should not have to, but it argues that
opponents of same-sex marriage are actually attempting to "impose
their views on all other faith groups and the rest of society"
pointing to recent lobbying by the Bishops Conference of Scotland
and the Council of Glasgow Imams as evidence.
In their joint-letter the coalition warns that it would "strongly
oppose" any attempt to restrict same-sex marriage to civil-only
ceremonies. Instead they are seeking assurances from MSPs that any
proposed legislation will "protect and extend" freedom of religion
and belief by "giving those religious and humanist bodies that do
want to conduct same-sex marriage the right to do so."
Tom French, Policy Coordinator for the Equality Network, welcomed
the launch of the Faith in Marriage campaign; "The launch of the
Faith in Marriage coalition highlights that there is widespread
support across Scotland's faith communities for equal marriage. The
Scottish Parliament should recognise this and bring forward
legislation that allows both religious and civil same-sex
"Opponents of equality should remember that religious freedom cuts
both ways, and whilst no faith group should be required to conduct
same-sex marriages it is equally important that none are prevented
from doing so."
Rev Sharon Ferguson, of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement,
added: "For me true equality is about choice - everyone having the
same choices.Consequently, all people should be free to choose
whether they want a religious marriage, a civil marriage, or a
civil partnership regardless of sexual orientation or gender
"Ministers of religion should be free to choose whether they want
to conduct a solemnisation or blessing upon any couple regardless
of sexual orientation or gender identity."