More than two-thirds of Scots believe that religious organisations should have the right to conduct gay weddings if they want to, an opinion poll published today reveals.
An Ipsos Mori poll of 1,003 Scots found that 68 per cent of those sampled believe that religious organisations should have the freedom to conduct same-sex marriages.
With the Scottish Government expected to publish its consultation on the controversial issue shortly, the poll also shows that 64 per cent of Scots now support gay marriage compared with 61 per cent in 2010.
Alex Salmond has indicated that he is in favour of same-sex marriage, but has suggested that the legislation should not compel religious organisations to perform gay weddings.
The Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, the Council of Glasgow Imams and the Episcopalian Church have all registered their objection to the controversial legislation, arguing that marriage should be only between a man and a woman.
The Humanists, the Unitarians, the United Reformed Church and the Quakers are among the groups who say they would have no objection to hosting gay weddings.
South of the border, there have been indications that the UK Government is only prepared to legalise same-sex civil marriages, a move which would effectively prevent all religious and humanist organisations from conducting same-sex marriages even if they want to.
The poll, commissioned by the gay-rights charity the Equality Network, reveals that women and younger people are the strongest supporters of equal marriage rights.
It showed that 70 per cent of women agree with a change in the law. Whilst there was a majority support amongst all age groups, people under 55 support same-sex marriage by a margin of over four-to-one (76 per cent agree as opposed to 17 per cent who disagree).
Tom French, policy coordinator for the Equality Network, said; “Scotland has spoken and the message is clear; there is now overwhelming support for equal marriage across the country and in the Scottish Parliament. This record level of support gives the Scottish Government the green light they need to announce legislation that will give lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people full marriage equality, both civil and religious.”
Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP who was behind the move to legalise civil partnerships in Scotland, said: “Time after time, public support for equal marriage has been shown to be strong in Scotland. Those who want the law to keep treating same-sex couples as second-class citizens are in the wrong, and in the minority. It’s time now to press ahead with this overdue change in the law.”