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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex civil partnerships & marriages (SSM) in Scotland

Part 2: 2011: Support for, and opposition
to, SSM by the public and religious groups:

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Continued from Part 1 of this topic

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Results of the Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey 2010:

The survey determined that:

  • "For the most part, the extent to which people express discriminatory attitudes has changed little since [the last survey in] 2006. However, there has been a further significant decline in expression of discriminatory attitudes towards gay men and lesbians. Moreover, support for same sex marriage has increased -- by 2010, 61% agreed that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry."
  • "30% would be unhappy if a family member formed a relationship with someone of the same sex."

  • "50% said that sexual relationships between two adults of the same sex are either rarely wrong or not wrong at all, compared with 27% who thought they were always or mostly wrong."

  • "18% felt that a gay man or lesbian would be an unsuitable primary teacher."

  • "The biggest and most rapid change in discriminatory attitudes in the last decade has been in views of gay men and lesbians. In 2000, 48% felt sexual relationships between two adults of the same sex were always or mostly wrong. By 2010 this figure had fallen to just over a quarter (27%). At the same time, support for same sex marriage has increased from 41% in 2002 to 61% in 2010, while more people said a gay man or lesbian would be a suitable primary school teacher in 2010 compared with 2006 (56% compared with 48%).These changes in attitudes have occurred across most groups in Scottish society, including people brought up in an era when male same sex relationships were illegal (although it remains the case that older are more likely than younger people to hold discriminatory views towards gay men and lesbians)."

  • "... the increase in support for same sex marriage (SSM) since 2006 suggests that a majority of people in Scotland would support same sex relationships being treated in law in the same manner as heterosexual relationships."

1,495 adults were interviewed during 2010 between June and October. The margin of error is about ±2.5 percentage points. 1

Comments according to the Anglican Journal:

"A recent Scottish Social Attitudes survey showed that more than 60 percent of Scots believe same-sex couples should have the right to marry, compared with 19 percent who disagree; the rest [21%] said they don't know.

Some 66 percent of Scotland's population of five million describe themselves as Christians; about 690,000 [14%] are Catholic.

'What we have here is the start of a serious church-state confrontation,'said Harry Reid, a former editor of Scotland's The Herald and author of the best-selling book 'The Reformation: The Dangerous Birth of the Modern World.'

'For many Catholics, the idea of gay men and lesbians marrying in churches is just a step too far,' said Reid. 'Already, some of the most important leaders of the Catholic Church have said, 'So far, no further.' And there are divisions in the Church of Scotland following plans to ordain gay men as ministers. Whole congregations are threatening to break away later this year and form their own groups." 2

Response by the Roman Catholic Church:

The announcement of the government's consultation triggered an objection by Cardinal O'Brien. On 2011-SEP-07 he said:

"The view of the church is clear, no government can rewrite human nature. The family and marriage existed before the state and are built on the union between a man and woman. ... Any attempt to redefine marriage is a direct attack on a foundational building block of society and will be strenuously opposed." 3

Unlike other conservative Christian denominations, the Roman Catholic Church believes that one's sexual orientation is discovered, not chosen, and that it is always or almost always fixed in adulthood.

However, the Church agrees with other conservative Christian denominations and disagrees with all of the major professional psychological and psychiatric associations, essentially all human sexuality researchers, etc. concerning the nature of bisexual and homosexual orientation. Rather than consider these two sexual orientations, along with heterosexuality, as three normal and natural orientations, the church considers the two to be intrinsically disordered. They insist that the only moral decision for a LGB person is to attempt to change their sexual orientation or to remain celibate for the rest of their life. Since the percentage of LGB adults who have been able to change their orientation is zero or essentially so, this leaves celibacy and a lifetime of loneliness as the only acceptable option to the Church.

Cardinal O'Brien may not be aware that the SNP's proposals would not directly involve the Roman Catholic church. They and all other religious groups will be able to refuse to opt-in to performing marriages for same-sex couples. It is important to realize that a majority of Roman Catholic laity reject the teachings of the church magisterium and favor making SSM available to lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

Lack of response by the Church of Scotland:

Because of a self-imposed moratorium on topics related to homosexual orientation, the Church of Scotland has refused to comment on SSM.

Response by the Scottish Episcopal Church:

An unidentified spokesperson for the church said:

"Our canon relating to marriage states that marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman. The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has not debated the question of same-sex marriage."

Response by the Methodist Church:

Rachel Lampard, the Joint Public Issues team leader at the Methodist Church, said

"The Methodist Conference would have to vote in favor of civil partnerships taking place in Methodist churches for the legislation to have any effect."

Presumably she implies that there is no possibility of his church solemnizing SSMs in the foreseeable future.

Response by the Christian Institute in Scotland:

We have been unable to find much information on this group. However, news accounts report that they are opposed to sex-education in schools, opposed to same-sex marriage, and in favor of defending the right of parents to discipline their children by using corporal punishment. So they appear to be a conservative Christian group.

Spokesperson Mike Judge said:

"All the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples through civil-partnership registrations. This is not about rights. This is about re-defining marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists."

He appears to overlook what is perhaps the most important right of marriage to loving committed same-sex couples: the right to call their union a marriage and to have it registered as such with the government. Only then will the public generally accept them as married and their committment to be real. 4

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This topic continues in Part 3

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Scottish Social Attitudes survey 2010: Attitudes to discrimination and positive action - Research Findings," The Scottish Government, 2011-AUG-11, at:
  2. Trevor Grundy, "Scotland's gay marriage consultation stirs debate," Anglican Journal, 2011-SEP-26, at:
  3. Robbie Dinwoodie, "Faith groups unite to back gay weddings," The Herald/Scotland, 2011-SEP-29 at:
  4. "Scottish government launches gay marriage consultation," BBC News, 2011-SEP-03, at:

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM > Scotland > here

 Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM > UK > Scotland > here

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Copyright © 2011 & 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-SEP-27
Latest update: 2012-MAR-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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