Scotland has a long & tumultuous history, but that can't be said for the legalization of Scotland gay marriage. Manplay.com looks at the history & stats. Scotland has had a remarkably modern attitude about gay rights and gay couples, which is why it's one of the best country's in Europe to be in if you're a gay couple! Attitudes toward gay people have been historically progressive in Scotland, which might not be one you'd associate with the normally stoic nation. But gay people have had rights in Scotland for decades before civil unions and marriages were legally recognized by the government.
It might be surprising to consider, but Scotland is not considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe when it comes to gay rights and gay marriage in Scotland. In fact, as of 2015, Scotland was officially recognized as such. Public attitude has been largely supportive of gay lifestyles, because "gay activity" had been legally allowed since 1980. To put this in perspective, the age of consensual sex allowed for opposite-sex couples has only been legally allowed since 2001. So the Scottish government and people have had more of an open mind toward gay activities than they have toward straight ones.
The road toward having gay marriage legalized, not just activities, began in earnest in 2009. In January of that year, the director of a gay rights group in Scotland, Nick Henderson, drafted a petition for Scottish Parliament requesting that the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 be changed to allow gay marriage. This Act had previously banned gay couples from getting married in Scotland. Henderson also called for the Act to include that gay marriages be allowed in religious areas, while also giving religious officials the freedom to opt out of allowing that on their premise. Many government and religious officials actually signed and public supported the petition, helping to get it national attention. In March of 2009, the petition proved successful, encouraging the Petitions Committee to agree to confront the Scottish government on its intentions regarding gay marriage. The group would question the timeframe of when the government would make the change to the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977, and demanded a reason as to why if they denied to do it.
A similar petition came up from a different gay rights group just before the confrontation with the government. This one also gained overwhelming support from local MEPs and other organizations. The Committee agreed in September of that year that they would include the points raised in this petition in their questioning of the government as well. In December, the Petitions Committee requested that a Minister and the petitioners meet, where the government ultimately rejected the petitions. The head of the equality sector of government claimed that the reason was that it would be too hard to have gay marriage legally allowed in Scotland, but not in England. Two years later, in 2011, Her Majesty's government publicly announced that there would be a consultation on gay marriage becoming legal in England and Wales the following year. This meant good things for gay marriage in Scotland as well.
The Scottish Government held an independent consultation for 3 months in 2011, from September to December. They were forced to address the issue of legalizing gay marriage after a public survey found that 60% of Scots felt that gay marriage should be legal. Government officials not only discussed legalizing gay marriage, but also removing any bans regarding religious grounds and civil partnerships. In that meeting, government officials made it publicly clear that they were in support of the idea of legalizing gay marriage in Scotland. This was stated in the press by the Deputy First Minister as well.
In July of 2012, Scotland's Government announced that it would be introducing official legislation that would legalized gay marriage in the country. They also announced that with this change, no religious officials would be forced to participate in gay marriage ceremonies if they did not want to. However, clergymen who opted in were able to perform gay marriages if they wished. Religious freedom would not be compromised with the legalization of gay marriage, and that was important for the government to get across to religious residents. The Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill was brought to Scottish Parliament in June 2013. Most of the members of Scottish Parliament had already stated their public support for gay marriage, including party leaders, so it's not surprising that the bill was passed quickly. The goal was to have the bill put into effect in March of 2014. The Equal Opportunities Committee deliberated over the bill for roughly two months before publishing their report in November. Later in November, the bill passed with a majority vote in Scottish Parliament; 98 to 15. Before officially going into effect, the bill had to pass through a couple more stages for approval. Several amendments to the bill were proposed, rejected, and accepted before being finalized in January of 2014. In March of that year, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 was officially approved. The first Scotland gay marriages were performed in December of 2014.
When it comes to gay marriage, Scotland is the place to be. Since gay marriage was legalized in 2014, 1 in 8 marriages in the whole country were between same-sex couples. There were 3,889 total marriages, and 462 of those involved gay couples. Including gay marriages in national statistics showed a 9.6% increase in marriages in Scotland in just a few months. There were 340 more people married in a few months time-span than there were early in the year. Early in that year, there were also 20 civil partnerships registered in Scotland of those, 12 were male couples, and 8 were female.
Clearly, gay couples in Scotland we waiting for the opportunity to legally have their relationships recognized, and to benefit from the same perks as straight married couples in the country.
Presently, gay marriage is legal and largely accepted in Scotland. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 allows and protects the legal marital rights of gay couples in the country. The majority of the public and government officials had been in favour of having gay marriage legal, with equal rights for all couples even prior to the official passing of the Act. Being a country where gay couples could live peacefully since the 1980s, the only surprising aspect of legal gay marriage in Scotland is that it took so long to happen. Being part of a Monarchy and linked in many way to other, more powerful countries like England, limited what the Scottish government could plausibly allow. Fourtunately, the timing was perfect in that English government was also considering making a change to their policy regarding gay marriage. This allowed Scottish government to finally put through the official legislation on their end. As of 2015, gay couples are finally allowed to legally marry in their home country, and have their marriages recognized by the government.
Gay marriage in Scotland isn't going anywhere. The country has been a gay-friendly one for decades, and now that they have legal equality for all relationships, it isn't going anywhere. The Scottish government is obviously thinking about longevity for the legislation, because they're taking into consideration the most vocal opponent of gay marriage. The government is making sure to protect religious freedoms and officials rights to refuse to participate in or perform gay marriage ceremonies if they are personally opposed to it. Nobody is being forced to participate, or being punished for their views. Making sure to take the time to appease the groups who are against gay marriage almost guarantees a more peaceful conformation to new legislation.
With so many government officials in favour of it, and high numbers of public support, gay marriage in Scotland is a new and permanent law. To make any kind of regressive change to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 at this point would be extremely detrimental. Mass protests would be sure to breakout, and more bad than good would come of it. With such great numbers of support in favour of gay marriage in all levels of Scottish society, however, there's no reason for any such changes to be considered anyway.