Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights in Scotland are generally in line with the rest of the United Kingdom, which have evolved extensively over time and are now regarded as some of the most progressive in Europe. In both 2015 and 2016, Scotland was recognised as the "best country in Europe for LGBTI legal equality".
Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1981 and the age of consent has been equal to that for opposite-sex activity since 2001, at 16. A same-sex marriage law was approved by the Scottish Parliament in February 2014 and received royal assent on 12 March 2014. It came into effect on 16 December 2014 with many civil partners converting their relationships into marriages, while the first same-sex marriage ceremonies occurred on 31 December 2014. Civil partnerships for same-sex couples have been legal since 2005. Same-sex couples have also been granted joint and stepchild adoption rights since 2009 and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity has been banned since 2010.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Scotland since 16 December 2014, with the first same-sex marriages occurring on 31 December 2014. The law provides that religious organizations and individual celebrants are under no obligation to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, though religious organizations are permitted to authorize their clergy to do so.
On 25 July 2012, the Scottish Government announced that it would legalise same-sex marriage. The move was announced despite opposition by the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland. Although Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the move as the "right thing to do", she reassured churches that they would not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.During the consultation phase, ministers received over 19,000 messages from constituents about the issue.
On 27 June 2013, the Scottish Government introduced same-sex marriage legislation in the Scottish Parliament.
On 4 February 2014, the Scottish Parliament held its final reading on the bill to permit same-sex marriages. The bill passed by a vote of 108-15 and received royal assent on 12 March 2014. The Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act 2014 (Scottish Gaelic: Achd Pòsaidh is Com-pàirteachasan Sìobhalta (Alba) 2014) allows religious and faith organisations to be exempted from having to conduct or be involved in same-sex marriages if it contravenes their beliefs. The first same-sex weddings occurred on 31 December 2014, though civil partnerships could be exchanged for marriage certificates from 16 December 2014 so the very first same-sex marriages under Scottish law were recognised that day.
In June 2017, the Scottish Episcopal Church approved of same-sex marriage within church canon law. In May 2018, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland passed a motion by a vote of 345 to 170 which tasks a committee with drafting church law on the issue of same-sex marriage. Its legal question committee has been asked to report back to the decision-making body in 2020.
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