The first same sex marriage ceremonies in Scotland are expected to go ahead from this Hogmanay, announced today the Scottish Government.
The government have also announced that couples who wish to convert their existing civil partnerships to marriage will be able to do so, free of charge for the first year, as soon as the law comes into force on 16 December by making an appointment with a registry office for a simple administrative process.
Alternatively, couples can convert through a full marriage ceremony from 31 December – in that case the usual marriage fees will apply.
The gap between 16 December and the first possible ceremonies is to allow for the minimum notice period for marriage of 14 clear days.
For married transgender people, today’s announcement also brought the welcome news that from 16 December they will no longer be forced to divorce the person they love before they are allowed to have the gender they live as recognised in law. Furthermore, because there is no ‘spousal veto’ on gender recognition in Scotland, the decision of a married trans person to get legal recognition of their gender will be respected as their human right, and not a decision that can be blocked by a spouse.
The Scottish Government together with the Equality Network are to hold a celebration event held in Edinburgh to herald the announcement, later this morning, which KaleidoScot will be reporting from.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Alex Neil stated: “It is wonderful that same sex couples can now begin to make plans to have their marriage just as any other couple can.
“This historic legislation had overwhelming support across the Scottish Parliament, demonstrating to the world how importantly Scotland views equality.
“That support means that, from 31 December, same sex couples who want to show their love and commitment to each other could get married in front of family and friends at a ceremony they choose together.
“This will be an important signal that our nation is absolutely committed to the same rights for all our citizens.
“It will be a proud and no doubt emotional day for many, and I, for one, can’t wait.”
Tom French, Policy and Public Affairs Coordinator for the Equality Network, said: “We are very pleased that after years of campaigning for equal marriage it is now just weeks away from becoming a reality. Today’s milestone announcement means that same-sex couples across Scotland will be able to set a date and start planning their weddings. With the first ceremonies set to take place on Hogmanay, Scotland can be proud that we will bring in the new year as a fairer and more equal country.
“The 31st December 2014 will be a date that is remembered for many years to come, and a profoundly emotional day for those couples who celebrate their commitment to each other, and for all LGBTI people who grew up in a country where being gay was still criminalised until 1981. Scotland is now a leader on LGBTI equality, with one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world. There is still more to do to ensure full equality in people’s day-to-day lives, but this year we have taken a huge leap forward towards creating the fair and equal Scotland we all want to see.”
Rob McDowall, Member of the Equality Council and Chair of LGBT Network, told KaleidoScot: “I am delighted that having submitted the Scottish Parliament petition PE1239 calling for marriage equality in 2009, we are set to witness a momentous occasion in Scottish LGBTI history. Equality is truly on its way to the LGBTI people of Scotland and I am exceptionally pleased to hear this will take place as we welcome in a new year.”