Time and tide…

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For many months now the Scottish Government has been letting it be known that it will be legislating for same-sex marriage. Finally, it introduces a bill on the matter in the Scottish Parliament on the eve of the summer holidays.

In addition it has been trumpeting in the media recently that this legislation will give new rights to Scottish Humanists to register marriages (which they can already do), that it will allow different gender couples to register civil partnerships and that it will give new rights to transgendered persons.

But for some reason, perhaps because of the contentious nature of the proposals for much of the population as evident in the current difficulties of the Church of Scotland and the vocal opposition to the proposals from the Roman Catholic Church, it is not planning to finally approve this legislation, on which it could act speedily because of the SNP majority in the Scottish Parliament, until after the referendum on independence in 2014.

If the UK parliament still had responsibility for same-sex marriage then those in favour of this measure would have achieved this aim this summer due to the initiative of David Cameron.

However, there is a real prospect now, with it being a 
Holyrood responsibility, that same-sex marriage may not be achieved in Scotland in the foreseeable future.

If the SNP wins the referendum then the Scottish Parliament will have other huge matters to attend to; if it loses, Alex Salmond will have to stand down and there will be an interregnum and consequent indecision. There is no guarantee with the current timetable that the bill will be successful.

And what of the Equality Network which promotes same-sex marriage and which, as Richard Lucas has pointed out in these columns, is funded by the Scottish Government?

Will it dare criticise the timetable for the legislation or is it so beholden to the Scottish Government that it will shamefacedly tolerate the official timetable for the legislation and the consequent risks of failure to achieve one of its central objectives?

Norman Bonney

Palmerston Place

Edinburgh