Today, a diverse range of organisations from across Scottish society united to back Scottish Government plans to legalise same-sex marriage.
In a special press conference in Edinburgh, representatives from the Equality Network, the Scottish Youth Parliament, Amnesty International, UNISON, the Humanist Society of Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland and NUS Scotland joined together to announce their support for equal marriage.
Immediately after the press conference the Equal Marriage campaign handed over 18,000 consultation responses to the Scottish Government in support of plans to legalise same-sex marriage. The responses were collected by the Equality Network, the Scottish Youth Parliament, LGBT Youth Scotland and NUS Scotland amongst others.
Speaking at the event, Tom French, Policy Coordinator for the Equality Network, said; “Today we have seen a rainbow coalition of organisations from across Scottish society voice their strong support for equal marriage.
It is increasingly clear that the vast majority of Scots support same-sex marriage. For most people this is a simple issue of love, equality and fairness. If a same-sex couple love each other and want to get married, then why should they be banned from doing so?
There can be no excuse for continuing to deny same-sex couples equality under the law. We hope the Scottish Government will listen to what is being said, stand by its values and legislate for equal marriage.”
Grant Costello MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said; “The young people of Scotland want to live in a Scotland which is truly equal, where every Scot has access to the same rights regardless of their sexual orientation.
We know this to be true because we have asked them. Through the consultation and campaigning work, our MSYPs (Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament) from all over Scotland have spoken with thousands of young people on the issue of marriage equality. They are overwhelming in their support.
Through our national campaigning we have encouraged these young people to voice their support, engage in the democratic process and respond to the government’s consultation a process which is a the heart of the SYP’s mission – to raise the voice of young people in Scotland and to ensure that voice is listen to by decision makers.”
Shabnum Mustapha, Scotland Director of Amnesty International, added; “Amnesty International fully supports the Equal Marriage campaign. We believe that from a human rights perspective, the Scottish Government’s proposals deliver equal rights for same-sex couples, whilst promoting and extending the right to religious freedom.
Amnesty has a strong history of standing up for and supporting the rights of the LGBT communities around the world. In too many countries LGBT people still face discrimination and persecution, that ranges from ill-treatment and violence to execution, imprisonment and torture.
We believe the Scottish Government’s proposals will proudly place Scotland at the forefront of promoting equality and human rights for LGBT people nationally as well as internationally.”
John Bishop, Secretary of the Humanist Society of Scotland, said; “The Humanist Society of Scotland has over 7000 members and is the third largest provider of marriages in Scotland. Despite our clear wish to conduct same-sex marriages, as the law stands, we are wrongly prevented from doing so. This is an unacceptable infringement on our freedom of belief.
As Humanists, we seek to reflect the views of the growing majority of Scots who have no religious affiliation and who want to promote a secular Scotland in which there is equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.
We fully support the Equal Marriage campaign to lift the ban on same-sex marriage in Scotland and will be submitting a detailed response to the Scottish Government supporting equality.”
Stephen Low, Policy Officer for UNISON Scotland, said; “UNISON Scotland is proud to support the Equal Marriage campaign. UNISON believes marriage and civil partnership should be open to all couples, irrespective of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Equal marriage threatens no one – it doesn’t take anything away from anyone. All it does is recognise that Lesbian and gay people are people the same as everybody else”
Mhairi Logan, Head of Policy, LGBT Youth Scotland, said; “LGBT Youth Scotland has been working to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender young people to have their voices heard on an issue which has been exceptionally important to them – marriage equality.
Many of the young people we work with are particularly vulnerable and often don’t have the opportunity to have their voices heard. Through campaigning with the LGBT National Youth Council we have received the highest number of young people responses for any consultation we have ever been involved in.
This has been an undeniably empowering process for young people to have their voices heard in a democratic process that can feel very alien and scary.”
Nathan Sparling, NUS Scotland LGBT Officer, said; “It’s events like this which show the broad support that exists for same-sex marriage in Scotland.
The support shown by students, young people, religious groups and the public to give a basic right to those who wish to marry the person they love has been overwhelming. The community has come together to say yes, and I hope the Scottish Government maintains its position, so we’ll see true equality in Scotland in the near future.”
The Equal Marriage campaign has received backing from politicians across the political spectrum, including the Scottish Government who have stated they are minded to lift the ban on same-sex marriage.
Opinion polls suggest a majority of Scots support equal marriage, including the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2010 which indicated 61% support versus 19% opposition. This included a majority of respondents following all the major faiths and political parties in Scotland.