This month Scotland voted overwhelmingly (105 to 18) to allow same sex marriages with the passing of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. This now just awaits Royal Assent. Since 2004 Civil Partnerships have been available for same sex couples but some gay organisations felt that until the same rights were available to both same sex and opposite sex couples Scottish society would remain inherently discriminatory to some of its citizens.
The move was opposed by the Scottish Catholic Church and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. However the new progressive legislation has put in place protections for religious bodies who do not wish to conduct same sex marriages although some other religious groups such as the Quakers and Buddhists back the change.
The Bill also includes provisions to allow belief ceremonies, such as humanist ceremonies as alternatives to religious and civil ceremonies. The Bill will further permit transgendered people to stay married-previously transgendered people had to divorce.
Scotland is the 17th country to approve same-sex marriages. The first was The Netherlands in 2001 and last year England and Wales, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand and France joined the list.