Church of Scotland to debate legislation on same-sex marriage

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The Church of Scotland's General Assembly meeting later this month will debate legislation on allowing ministers to conduct same-sex marriages. 

The legislation means that ministers and deacons would be able to apply for a license to become authorised celebrants for same-sex marriage ceremonies. 

Provisions in the legislation say that no one will be forced to participate in or be involved in the arrangements for a same-sex marriage unless they explicitly wish to do so. 

The proposals are being brought after the 2018 General Assembly instructed the Legal Questions Committee to prepare draft legislation. 

If the Assembly, meeting from 22 to 27 May, passes the legislation, it will then be shared with presbyteries for their consideration, with all responses to be returned to the Principal Clerk by no later than 31 December.

If passed by the presbyteries, it would then come back to be voted on at the 2022 Assembly.

Rev Dr Grant Barclay, the convener of the Legal Questions Committee, said: "The committee recognises that there are diverse views on the subject of same-sex marriage. We are committed to ensuring that any resulting debates on this subject are held in a spirit of humility and grace, that the tone and tenor of discussions are civil, and that people are respectful of those who hold opposing views.

"The proposed Act makes clear that no-one who does not wish to be involved in the celebration of same sex marriage shall be required to do so, and this principle of protection and accommodation runs throughout the committee's thinking in drafting the legislation.

"Following presentation of this draft legislation, it is for the Assembly to decide what, if anything, to do with it. The Legal Questions Committee offers no theological view on the issue, and it shall be for the Assembly to determine what steps are now taken."