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Love Equally

SYP’s campaign for marriage equality

We think that two people who love each other should be able to get married.

It’s as simple as that.

We want to live in a Scotland where:

  • Same-sex couples are allowed to get married if they want to 
  • Mixed-sex couples are allowed to register a civil partnership if they want to
  • If religious organisations want to perform same-sex marriages and civil partnerships, they should be allowed to do so

We urge the Scottish Government to work quickly on making this a reality

Young people in their thousands have told us the law should be the same for everyone. Research shows the majority of Scots of all ages support marriage equality. This is a reality in 10 countries already, with several others moving in that direction – don’t let Scotland be left behind.

Join together with us and LOVE EQUALLY.

There are loads of ways you can support the campaign. We’d like to let the Scottish Government know that young people want marriage equality to become a reality and we’re not prepared to wait.

We’ve just had a fantastic campaign success – after the launch of our Love Equally campaign for marriage equality and our petition which has been signed by over 2,000 people in just a month, the Scottish Government has published a consultation on the issue!

The petition called for the Government to bring forward this consultation, which was originally scheduled to be published over a year from now. This is a massive success and a huge well done to each and every one of you – we’ve heard fantastic stories about everyone who’s gone the extra mile for the campaign and it’s paid off in style!

This is just the first step in the road however – there’s still much we need to do to make marriage equality a reality. The next step is to make sure the Scottish Government are left in no doubt that the majority of Scotland’s young people want marriage equality – this is up to each and every one of us to play our part. Our opponents are trying to fool the Government into thinking that the majority of Scots don’t want marriage equality, when in fact the opposite is true. Don’t let them win!

So in the next few days we’ll be sending out a guide to responding to the Government’s consultation. We’re aiming to make it as easy as possible to flood the consultation with hundreds of individual responses from MSYPs and other young people across Scotland so that our voices are heard loud and clear!

Other ways to show your support

  • Change your profile picture on Facebook and Twitter to an image of our campaign logo - click here to download- and why not get your friends to do the same?
  • If you’re organising something locally, we’ve got loads of promo items including SYP ‘wedding rings’- like rubber wristbands but for everyone to wear on their ring finger! If you have something planned and need some campaign materials get in touch with - all we ask in return is to post the pictures on!
  • We’re running stalls at festival and events all summer long to gather up young people’s support for the campaign. The full list of events SYP can be found by clicking here. If we are attending an event in your area and you’re interested in helping out at one of them, get in touch with Kate at 


And this is just for starters! For all the latest on the campaign, keep your eye on If you’ve got any other great ideas we’d love to hear them and make them happen – get in touch with with all your suggestions!

What exactly are we campaigning for?

In our modern Scotland, we think that all laws regarding same-sex relationships and mixed-sex couples should be equal. We want to live in a Scotland where:

  • Same-sex couples are allowed to get married if they want to – at the moment the law specifically bans this from happening.
  • Mixed-sex couples are allowed to register a civil partnership if they want to – the law also bans this. There is interest in this from a number of mixed-sex couples who do not want to get married but are interested in legally registering their partnership, which they currently can’t do.
  • If religious organisations want to perform same-sex marriages and civil partnerships, they should be allowed to do so – whilst mixed-sex couples have the option of a civil wedding, or a religious wedding, civil partnerships cannot be registered in a religious venue by the clergy. Not every religious institution wants to do this, and whilst they have their own decision-making processes, the option should be open for those religious institutions that wish to perform (‘solemnize’) same-sex marriages and civil partnerships.
  • The Scottish Government gets to work quickly on making this a reality – the first step is bringing forward a public consultation, which is the first thing we’ll be pushing them to do.

Why is SYP campaigning for marriage equality?

In the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections, the SYP consulted with thousands of young people to create a Youth Manifesto for Scotland, ‘Change the Picture’. There were 42,804 responses from young people across Scotland; making it one of the largest youth consultations of its type in Scotland. Any statement that received support from over 50% of respondents was included in the final manifesto, which will shape the SYP’s policy and campaigning work over the next five years. Click here for more info on ‘Change the Picture’.

One of these statements was “all laws regarding homosexual relationships, whether male or female, should be equal to those of heterosexual relationships” which received strong support, with 74% of young people in agreement.

The most prominent example of the statement is marriage law. The issue of extending legal marriage to same-sex couples and civil partnerships to heterosexual couples has been gaining some traction in recent months with political support (see below). A number of other organisations are also campaigning for marriage equality, such as LGBT Youth Scotland’s ‘M.E. 2’ campaign.

At the SYP Sitting in June 2011, MSYPs voted for Marriage Equality to be the SYP’s national campaign until at least March 2012, with the possibility of extension following that date.

Current Laws - Who can (and can’t) get married?

Any two persons, regardless of where they live, may marry in Scotland provided that: both persons are at least 16 years of age on the day of their marriage; they are not related to one another; they are not already married or in a civil partnership; they are capable of understanding the nature of a marriage ceremony and of consenting to marrying - and that they are not of the same sex.

The Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 explicitly prohibits marriage from taking place between same sex couples; also the Civil Partnership Act 2004 specifically excludes mixed sex couples.

Differences between Marriage and Civil Partnership

Although a civil partnership is essentially viewed as a “gay marriage”, between same sex partners, the reason it is not called a “gay marriage”, is that there are a few differences between a partnership and a marriage on a technical level.

  • Couples in a civil partnership are not legally allowed to be referred to as ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, but have to be addressed as ‘civil partner’
  • The Civil Partnership Act states that it will not allow any form of religious activity to occur during the process of registering the union. Religious and humanist organisations who wish to solemnise same sex marriages are currently banned from doing so.
  • Not all registrars are allowed to formalize civil partnerships – around 15% of registrars can perform civil marriages but not civil partnerships
  • As same sex marriage and mixed sex civil partnership are illegal, transsexual people are forced to undergo a divorce or dissolve their civil partnership before receiving legal gender recognition – even if their partner is the same person. This causes the humiliating situation where someone might need to divorce their spouse, then register a civil partnership with the same person!


Overall, whilst many of the tax and legal benefits for those in a civil partnership are the same as for married couples, it’s seen in law as very much a technical arrangement – formally registering your partnership rather than getting married. More than 2,500 same sex couples in Scotland have so far chosen to register a civil partnership - many of these couples would have chosen to get married if the option was available.

Political Support

In their responses to Change the Picture, Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens ‘agree in full’. The Conservatives ‘agree in part’; the SNP have ‘no position’, saying “issues such as same sex marriage are considered a matter of conscience for individual representatives. As such, the party does not have an official policy.” In their manifesto the SNP stated “We recognise the range of views on the questions of same-sex marriage and registration of civil partnership. We will therefore begin a process of consultation and discussion on these issues.”

In their manifestos, Labour promised to consult on the issue and the Lib Dems pledged their support for equal marriage. The Greens have committed themselves to bringing forward legislation for same-sex marriage in the upcoming session of Parliament and are confident of getting necessary cross-party support for a change in the law.

  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission have recently published a report making a strong case for marriage equality - click here to read it.
  • The 2006 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found that 54% of Scots agreed that “gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry”, while only 21% disagreed

Around the world

Same-sex marriages have been growing support around the world and since 2001 countries have begun legally formalizing and performing marriages. These countries include; Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, as well as Mexico City. The USA has seen seven states making gay marriage legal - most recently New York - with many more considering or having adaptations of civil partnerships.


Click here for our campaign press release.

Click here for our consultation press release.

Click here for SYP's response to Opinion Poll 25/11/11 .