Same-sex marriage has been approved in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament yesterday agreed to legalise same-sex marriage by 105 votes to 18 in a free vote.
Religious bodies will be able to "opt in" to perform same-sex weddings, but no religious community will be forced to hold such ceremonies. The first homosexual weddings could take place in the autumn.
The bill's supporters made repeated assurances that free speech was protected, but it was admitted that there was no specific opt-out for civil registrars.
The Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland opposed the legislation.
Northern Ireland, whose Assembly is not considering legislation, will now be the only part of the UK that does not allow same-sex marriage.
Said Alex Neil, cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing in Scotland: "I am proud that the Scottish Parliament has taken this progressive and hugely important decision in favour of equal rights in our country. It is right that same-sex couples should be able to freely express their love and commitment to each other through getting married. Marriage is about love, and that has been at the heart of this issue."
Said the Rev David Robertson, Free Church of Scotland minister and director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity: "Those of us who do not accept this redefinition of marriage and hold to the traditional view, which has been the building block of our society, mourn this day. Not just because it is certain that we will now be discriminated against when we do not bow down to the new state absolutist morality, but because we believe that ultimately this will be detrimental to the people of Scotland, especially the poor and marginalised."