THE Scottish government has rejected calls to hold a referendum
on same-sex marriage, describing it as "an issue of conscience, not
The cabinet met on Tuesday to discuss the response to its
consultation on legalising same-sex marriage. No decision was
reached, and a sub-committee has been appointed to "further examine
some particular issues of detail", a spokesperson said. A "clear
decision on the way forward" will be published before the end of
On the launch of the consultation in September last year, the
Scottish government said that it "tends towards the view" that
same-sex marriage should be introduced, but that faith groups
should not be obliged to solemnise it.
The Scotland for Marriage campaign group has urged the Scottish
government to carry out a referendum on whether or not same-sex
marriage should be legalised.
The campaign is supported by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of
Scotland. The president of the Conference, Cardinal Keith O'Brien,
has described same-sex marriage as "a grotesque subversion of a
universally accepted human right" (
News, 9 March).
He said on Monday that, as the consultation had received three
times more responses than the consultation on an independence
referendum, all those with a view on the subject should "place
their trust in the Scottish people, and let Scotland decide".
Both the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church
said that they could not agree to plans to legalise same-sex
A report this week from the centre-right think tank Policy
Exchange, What's in a name: Is there a case for equal
marriage?, sets out the "conservative case for equal
marriage". The benefits of marriage ought to be extended to gay
couples, the report argues. It rebuts the suggestion in the Church
of England's official response to the Government's consultation on
same-sex marriage (
News, 15 June) that the legislation would "dilute"
The report recognises concern about Churches' being forced to
solemnise same-sex marriages as "an important and principled
objection", and advises the Government to introduce "explicit
safeguards" into the legislation. "The Synod, not the European
Court of Human Rights, should decide the Church of England's
position on this," the report says.