Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson: I'm a Christian who backs gay marriage

Ruth Davidson has vowed to put pressure on Northern Ireland to legalise same-sex marriage.Reuters

The Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has described herself as "a practising Christian, a Protestant and a Unionist who is engaged to a Catholic Irishwoman" ahead of a speech delivering a "positive message" on gay marriage in Belfast.

Davidson, who recently became engaged to Jen Wilson, said she is "honoured" to have been invited to give the Amnesty Pride lecture in Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is not legal.

Not for the first time, the Scottish Tory leader made clear her support for a change of law in Northern Ireland. "As a practising Christian, a Protestant and a Unionist who is engaged to a Catholic Irishwoman, for me, equal marriage isn't about one religion, country or community," she said.

"It is about people in Northern Ireland being afforded the same rights as everybody else. Scotland is a better place today because of equal marriage and I want to take that positive message from our experiences here to Belfast and beyond."

Moves to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland have been repeatedly blocked in the devolved Stormont assembly.

A fifth attempt last November collapsed after it was vetoed with a mechanism used by the Democratic Unionist Party.

Last year, Davidson was active in the successful campaign for 'equal marriage' to be introduced in the Republic of Ireland.

After the passing of the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act in 2014, Davidson wrote that she wept for five minutes. "I am not ashamed to say that on returning to my parliamentary office after the vote, I cried deep sobbing tears of relief and release and joy and pain and pride and dozens of other emotions all mixed up together," she said. "In truth, I didn't really know why I was crying - I hadn't expected to - but I couldn't stop for a full five minutes."

Davidson wrote in the Herald: "As a practising Christian who is gay, the passage of the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act has been an intensely personal experience, as well as one that encompassed universal themes and fundamental rights."