27 Jun 2013

SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament, John Mason, has today (Thursday) commented on the publication of the Scottish Government’s Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill.

Mr Mason, who is a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee, which will scrutinise the legislation, welcomed the publication of the bill after much debate and said that attention must turn to ensuring that the relevant legal protections are put in place for those in ministry and public service.

Commenting, John Mason MSP said:

“I think it’s pretty clear from the parliamentary arithmetic that this bill is likely to pass.  However, it is highly unlikely I will vote for the bill.  Potentially I could abstain or vote against the legislation, depending on the evidence that is presented to committee.  A lot of this will hinge on the legal protections that can be given to those in positions like ministers or priests as well as to public and private sector employees, the third sector, and even volunteers.  I am still not sure whether, despite the assurances we have been given, these protections can be guaranteed.  I don’t think any Government would want to see ministers or priests dragged through the courts for upholding their personal beliefs in accordance with their faith and so, throughout the scrutiny of this bill, I will be seeking maximum reassurance on this point.

“There seems to be a minority who favour same sex marriage and a minority who oppose it.  I think the majority of the public probably are not too bothered either way as long as it does not affect them.  So far in the debate there has been a certain amount of animosity but I am hoping that the committee process can be conducted in a calm and civilised way.  I am very hopeful that a fair hearing will be given to witnesses from both sides as well as to the various legal opinions.

“This vote is, of course, a matter of conscience and I hope that regardless of how MSPs vote, this legislation can be debated and voted upon in a way that reflects the diverse pluralistic society which Scotland and this Parliament is keen to promote.”