Monday, December 31, 2012

Scotland Announces Consultation On Marriage Bill That Will Introduce Same-Sex Marriage and Other Changes

On Dec. 12, the government of Scotland announced a Consultation, i.e. published for public comment, a bill that would substantially amend Scotland's law on marriage.  The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill would introduce same-sex marriage and the religious registration of civil partnerships. Other changes include ones that would allow non-religious belief bodies, such as the Humanist Society of Scotland, to solemnize marriages in "belief ceremonies." (The Dec. 30 Scotsman reports on this.) The Consultation Paper sets out the proposed changes in detail and seeks comment on them.  Section 12 of the Bill assures that provisions for same-sex marriage do not affect freedom of thought, conscience, religion and expression protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. According to the Consultation Paper:
The Lord Advocate (who has responsibility for prosecutions in Scotland) intends, in due course, to publish prosecutorial guidelines on allegations of breach of the peace and threatening or abusive behaviour arising out of opposition to same sex marriage.
The Consultation Paper also deals with treatment of same-sex marriage in schools. The Government plans to introduce a bill in Parliament in 2013.