Anti-gay marriage protesters: ‘Campaign is far from over’

Nicola Sturgeon walks past a line of anti-gay marriage protesters outside Renfrew Town Hall. Picture: SWNS
Nicola Sturgeon walks past a line of anti-gay marriage protesters outside Renfrew Town Hall. Picture: SWNS
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PROTESTERS gathered outside a meeting of the Scottish Cabinet at Renfrew Town Hall to insist that the campaign against plans to legalise gay marriage is far from over.

The Scottish Government proposes to bring in legislation to allow same-sex couples to wed.

First Minister Alex Salmond and members of his cabinet are taking part in a public question-and-answer session.

Organisers of the protest, Scotland for Marriage, said about 200 people took part in the demonstration. The group, backed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland among others, was set up to fight the plans.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who announced last month that legislation would be brought forward to introduce same-sex marriage, shook hands and spoke to some of them as she walked in to the meeting.

Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said opponents of same-sex marriage came to tell SNP ministers “loud and clear: we’re not going away”.

He said: “Scotland supports marriage and the campaign is far from over.”

Almost two-thirds of people who responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the issue said they are opposed to same-sex marriage. But when responses such as postcards and petitions are excluded from the figures, almost two-thirds are in favour of the change.

Mr Kearney said: “There’s massive scope to mobilise people across Scotland to object to this change. We need to remember there’s a long, long way to go.

“We’re very, very concerned the Scottish Government can not give the legal protection and assurances they have offered us. They are promising to use a blank cheque that can not be cashed.

Ms Sturgeon has stressed that no church or religious celebrant will be compelled to conduct same-sex marriages.

The SNP administration is now having a “focused consultation” to consider what other protections could be included in the legislation.