Scotland: Marriage group targets marginal seats

PA

A group opposing gay marriage legislation in Scotland has released a list revealing that many MSPs who plan to back the proposed bill are vulnerable to being voted out of their seats by those in support of traditional marriage.

Scotland For Marriage (SFM), which supports marriage as a union between a man and a woman and has almost 55,000 supporters throughout Scotland, has published a Top Ten list that indicates just how significant votes will be in certain constituencies.

Sufficient numbers of supporters have been signed up to topple seven SNP figures including Gil Paterson, Sandra White and Marco Biagi, in addition to three Labour leaders.

"Our supporters are against same sex marriage. MSPs have already indicated that they are inclined to back the legislation," a spokesperson for SFM has said.

The group, which includes the Catholic Church, Church of Scotland and representatives of Muslim communities, hopes that voters will oust MSPs who refuse to protect the rights of those who disagree with the legislation.

"This is not a threat. It is merely democracy in action," the spokesman asserted.

SFM is expected to encourage members to make direct approaches to their MSPs in the coming few weeks in an effort to persuade them to support amendments to the proposed legislation, which is currently before Holyrood.

It has warned that safeguards are needed to protect those who support traditional marriage if the bill is passed and has repeatedly called for a series of changes to be made.

However, this is proving more difficult than otherwise hoped. SNP MSP Fiona McLeod, who represents Strathkelvin and Bearsden, recently refused to meet a constituent who supports Scotland For Marriage to discuss the legislation.

McLeod has a majority of 1892 in her constituency, but SFM has signed up 3,207 supporters in her seat, which marks her as one of the most vulnerable sitting MSPs.

"Our members are exercising their democratic rights and MSPs should have the decency to meet and listen to those who don't share their views," the SFM spokesman said.

"They are in office to represent all their constituents - not just those who might agree with them.

"While 76 per cent of MSPs voted to support the Bill at Stage One a recent poll showed that 43 per cent of Scots do not support gay marriage. So the politicians are out of step with public opinion."

SFM hopes to ensure that those who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman do not suffer discrimination in their career or workplace, do not have their freedom of speech restricted, are not denied access to public services and are not disallowed from fostering or adopting children.

"No one who supports the law as it stands should be discriminated against at home in the workplace and in schools, but that is likely to happen without safeguards being put in place to protect the rights and civil liberties of the majority of Scots who don't support this Bill," the SFM spokesperson said.

"The politicians claim there are sufficient safeguards but legal advice from leading human rights lawyers says otherwise.

"MSPs need to pay heed to what we are saying and our supporters will not be frightened to demonstrate their feelings at the next election. And for some, their votes could be decisive."

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