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‘The Registration of Civil Partnerships/Same Sex Marriage – A Consultation’

Your guide to what it’s all about and how to respond

 

Introduction

In August we launched Love Equally – SYP’s campaign for marriage equality. Our ultimate ambition is to campaign for 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

As a first step in the road to making this a reality we launched a petition calling on the Scottish Government to bring forward a public consultation with a view to making this happen. Within a month, more than 2,600 people had signed the petition and the issue had made the front page of national newspapers and TV news bulletins.

On 2nd September, the Scottish Government unveiled the public consultation ‘The Registration of Civil Partnerships/Same Sex Marriage – A Consultation’. This is a huge success, as they had not originally planned to do this until late next year!

But this is only the start of the campaign – whilst there are some very encouraging signs from the consultation, if we don’t speak up now, then the Government could drop the plans, or water them down. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to respond to the consultation and encourage other young people to do the same!

To quickly take part in the consultation online, click here.

If you're out and about, click here for a version you can print off and get people to complete. For more info about this and an example of what we're looking for, have a look at 'How can I respond?' at the bottom of this page. 

 

What’s in the consultation?

The consultation document summarises current laws regarding marriages and civil partnerships in Scotland and the reasons why a change may be needed. It looks at the situation in Scotland as well as in the rest of the UK and around the world, and presents several options for change.

These options include:

  • Whether the law should be changed to allow civil partnerships to be registered in religious ceremonies (this is currently banned)
  • Whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex marriage (this is currently banned)
  • If same-sex marriage were to be introduced, whether religious weddings should be allowed
  • A range of options designed to ensure that religious bodies are not forced to conduct civil partnership ceremonies or same sex marriages if they do not wish to do so
  • Discussing the role of individual religious celebrants (e.g. ministers, priests etc.) and whether they should be allowed to perform same-sex partnership ceremonies or marriages if their religious bodies does not agree, or if they do not want to perform them when their religious body allows them to do so
  • Whether civil partnerships should remain available if same-sex marriage was allowed
  • A number of other issues including disputes over the use of religious premises; the implications for transgender people; options for converting civil partnerships into marriages if the law were changed; options for recognising same-sex marriages in Scotland in the rest of the world, and how same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere in the world should be recognised in Scotland

 

The Scottish Government has set out their current thinking on the issues. They say that they “tend towards the view that religious ceremonies for civil partnerships should no longer be prohibited and that same sex marriage should be introduced so that same sex couples have the option of getting married if that is how they wish to demonstrate their commitment to each other. We also believe that no religious body or its celebrants should be required to carry out same sex marriages or civil partnership ceremonies.”

To view the consultation, click here!

This is very encouraging and would go a long way to realising our campaign goals. They do go on to say that their minds remain open stating “no final views have been reached and no decisions have been taken.” This makes it very important that as many people respond as possible – both to reassure and encourage them that this is what the majority of Scots, particularly young people want to happen, but also to persuade them to include the one missing element from the consultation – to allow mixed-sex couples to register a civil partnership if they wish to do so.

Opening up civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples would allow two people that love each other, whether they are mixed-sex or same-sex, to enjoy a range of options to show their love and commitment to each other. It would prevent a situation where transgender people in an existing civil partnership would be forced to dissolve their partnership before receiving legal gender recognition – even if their partner is the same person. This causes the humiliating situation where someone might need to end the partnership, and then get married again to the same person!

It would also put an end to inequality in the law regarding how mixed-sex and same-sex relationships are – for the first time there would be no restriction on how people who love each other are allowed to show their commitment based on what gender they happen to be.

 

Why should I respond?

It’s vital that as many people as possible respond to the consultation, to show that this is something that people care about, support and want to happen. Our opponents are sure to submit many responses to try and convince the Government that Scotland doesn’t want this when the opposite is true – 74% of young people in Scotland backed the statement in SYP’s Change the Picture manifesto that all laws regarding relationships for same-sex and mixed-sex couples should be equal. And most recently, research showed that 61% of all Scots support same-sex marriage. That majority needs to speak up now to make marriage equality a reality!

 

How can I respond?

We’ve put together a few  to help you respond to the consultation. Though there are a series of questions in the consultation document, the public and organisations don’t necessarily need to respond to each question individually and can do so in more or less any way they like! The only particular requirement is that anyone responding completes the Respondent Information Form, which can be found on the second page.

Click here for the printable streetwork version of the individual consultation response.

This can be used to easily share your views with the Government and support the campaign. All you need to do is:

  1. Add your name and address
  2. Add today’s date
  3. Add a few sentences about why you think marriage equality is important, why you support it and why you think it should happen! You can find an example of the sort of thing you can do by clicking here!
  4. If you’re posting it, sign it. If you’re emailing it, add your name at the bottom.
  5. Complete the Respondent Information Form on the back page. Please note – you are responding as an INDIVIDUAL, not a group/organisation
  6. Send the response to Sandra Jack, Scottish Government, St Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh, EH1 3DG (if you’re posting it).
  7. Alternatively, if you’re out and about collecting lots of responses, we can send them in to save you some postage! You can send them to Love Equally, Scottish Youth Parliament, Gordon Lamb House, Edinburgh, EH8 8PJ.

 

The more support you can give, the better the chances of our campaign succeeding! As well as taking part yourself, why not print off some copies and take them to any youth events that are happening locally? You could see if you could get a session in your school, local youth clubs or even take it to the streets and try and get young people to share their own views and add to the responses.

You could share the link to this page on Facebook and Twitter – we’ve had a lot of support for the petition this way so some of your Facebook friends could be up for helping the campaign by submitting a response.

Of course, if you don’t want to use the template, you don’t have to – as long as you include the Respondent Information Form you can write your own response and send it in. We’re happy to help you in any way we can, so if you’d like some advice and pointers for writing a cracker of a consultation response, get in touch with Rob Gowans at rob.g@syp.org.uk

 

Important Note – When you’re completing the Respondent Information Form, make sure you tick the box marked ‘Individual’, not ‘Group/Organisation’, even if you’re an MSYP. SYP will be submitting a detailed organisational response to go alongside the individual responses, and if you submit something that appears to be on behalf of SYP, this could result in all the responses being rejected and cause serious damage to the campaign – make sure you don’t do it!