Read the bill

Your article (8 November) on the Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee report about the same-sex marriage bill is somewhat misleading.

It is clear that it will be up to each religious body to decide freely whether to conduct same-sex marriages, and the committee does not suggest otherwise. Where a religious body does not opt in, none of its ministers will be legally entitled to conduct same-sex marriages.

Where a religious body opts in and allows its ministers to decide for themselves whether to perform same-sex marriages, then, contrary to your article, individual ministers will be entirely free to refuse to do so, with no possibility of that being overturned in the courts.

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In the unlikely case that a religious body decides to opt in and decides that it wants all its ministers to conduct same-sex marriages regardless of their own views, then if some ministers refused to do so, that would be an internal matter for the religious body and its members to resolve.

It would still not be possible for a member of the public to use the courts to force any minister to conduct such marriages.

The committee’s report fairly and comprehensively presents the evidence that the committee heard.

It makes recommendations for some small changes to the bill, but does not suggest that any changes are needed to the protections for religious bodies and celebrants.

Those protections are already there in the bill and the accompanying Equality Act amendments, and are robust.

Tim Hopkins

Equality Network

Bernard Street