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Scottish FlagA bill which allows same-sex couples to marry in Scotland has been passed.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill was passed by MSP’s in the Scottish Parliament by 105 to 18 votes.

The passing of the bill means that the first same-sex marriages could take place as early as Autumn this year.

 Scottish ministers stressed that the bill did not require religious bodies to perform same-sex marriages and that religious bodies would be given the option to ‘opt in’ to the new law.

 Despite the overwhelming majority vote for the bill in Parliament the country’s primary churches, the Scottish Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland, are in opposition to the new bill, stating that they have no intention of conducting gay or lesbian weddings.

 However, other religious groups in Scotland have come forward in support of the new legislation, including the Quakers and Buddhists. The Pagan Federation of Scotland has also stated that it is in favour of gay marriage.

 The SNP’s John Mason has voiced the concerns of the religious opposition to the bill, as well as calling for amendments to be made to the bill, one stating that no-one could be “compelled by any means” to solemnise gay marriage, including by a contract or a legal requirement.

 Mr Mason tabled further amendments, including one calling for recognition that “a belief in marriage as a voluntary union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others for life is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society”.

 He said: “This has been the prevailing view in Scotland for centuries, and may now be considered a minority view or even old fashioned, but it is an integral tenet of faith for many Christians, Muslims and others as well as the belief of many of no faith position at all.”

 The first same-sex weddings in England and Wales will take place from 29 March, after new legislation was passed by the Westminster parliament.

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