TWO young women posed in wedding dresses outside the Scottish Parliament yesterday to call for a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The Scottish Youth Parliament believes it is time Scotland joined a growing number of countries that have equal rights for all regardless of gender. While it is legal for same-sex couples to have civil partnerships, it remains illegal for them to marry.
Youth parliament members Kelley Temple and Eilidh Still donned wedding dresses as Grant Costello, SYP chairman, showered them with confetti in a quirky launch to the year-long campaign called Love Equally.
Mr Costello said: "The young people of Scotland have told us that two people who love each other should be able to get married, and it is now up to us to lobby the government and ask politicians to listen to them and make their voice heard."
He added: "Our message to Scotland is that all laws regarding homosexual relationships, whether male or female, should be equal to those of heterosexual relationships"
The SYP voted for the national campaign after consulting with more than 42,000 young people across Scotland and conducting a debate amongst its 150 elected members. The group, which involves people aged 14 to 25, now aim to spread their message through a series of events, including festivals, youth group meetings and street activities.
The SYP believes Scotland should join the ten countries, which include Argentina, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and South Africa, that have already changed the law to allow for same sex marriage.
They also think mixed-sex couples should be allowed to register a civil partnership. And they believe religious organisations should be able to perform same-sex marriages and civil partnerships if they wish.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie, who is supporting the campaign, said: "The Scottish Youth Parliament are right: marriage should be about love and commitment, not sexual orientation. If the government need to consult, it should be about how to make this change as quickly and simply as possible, and the Greens will firmly support that objective."
"SNP ministers should recognise the huge change that's taken place in public attitudes on this issue, and open up marriage to same-sex couples, and civil partnership to mixed-sex couples."The Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 prohibits marriage from taking place between same-sex couples, and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 does not apply to mixed-sex couples.
Although the tax and legal benefits are largely the same for civil partnerships as for marriage, same-sex couples are not legally allowed to be referred to as "husband" or "wife".
Religious activity must not take place during the process of registering a civil partnership, and religious and humanist organisations are banned from solemnising same-sex marriages.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government is committed to holding a consultation on the issues of same-sex marriage and civil partnership, with the process beginning later this year."