The first same-sex weddings will take place on Hogmanay, meaning that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Scotland will have all the more reason to celebrate, when we bring in the new year as a fairer and more equal country.
In February, following our six-year long Equal Marriage campaign, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 was passed by the Scottish Parliament with an overwhelming majority of 105 votes to 18. In March it received Royal Assent, and since then the Scottish Government has been working on the detail and the necessary secondary legislation required to bring the new law into force.
How to get married in Scotland
Registering a marriage
From 16 December, equal marriage will be legal in Scotland – meaning that same-sex couples can submit notice that they intend to get married. There is a standard 15 day notice period for registering marriages in Scotland so the first wedding ceremonies can happen on 31 December. Though couples in particularly extenuating circumstances may be able to get a shorter notice period by applying to the Registrar General. Same-sex marriages can be performed by registrars and by religious and humanist bodies that agree to do so. We expect those to include the Humanist Society of Scotland, the Quakers, the Unitarians, the Liberal Jewish Community, and possibly others. For more information see Registering a marriage or civil partnership
Converting a civil partnership
If you want to convert your Scottish civil partnership to marriage you will be able to do so from 16 December. You will need to make an appointment with your local registry office, and take along your civil partnership certificate and some photo ID. The Scottish Government have announced that converting a current civil partnership will be free for the first year of the new law (there will though be the usual fee of £10 if you want a printed copy of your marriage certificate). You can also choose to convert through a full marriage ceremony (civil, religious or belief) but for that you will need to give the usual notice and pay the normal costs. For more information see Converting a civil partnership to marriage
Want to be one of the first to get married?
If you want to be one of the first to marry, or to change your civil partnership to a marriage, we strongly recommend that you contact your local registry office asap to book a date and talk about the practicalities involved. If you want your marriage performed by a religious or humanist celebrant, make arrangements with them first and then contact the registry office about submitting notice. You will not be able to submit your marriage notice form or convert your civil partnership before the 16 December, but you can book a date and prepare arrangements in advance. We expect the first few months of the new law will be a very busy period for registry offices, so if you don’t book early you may have to wait a while for an available date.
Recognition of non-Scottish marriages, and marriage of foreign nationals
For couples who are already in a same-sex marriage, registered in another country (including England or Wales), your marriage will be recognised in Scotland from 16 December. If you live in another country but want to get married here – be it in a Scottish castle or anywhere else – you can do so, though you may have to apply for a visa depending on the country you live in.
For married trans people and those in civil partnerships, from the 16 December you will be able to apply for gender recognition without having to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership. Married trans people will be able to stay married; those in civil partnerships will need to convert to marriage and then get gender recognition. Because we fought to ensure that there is no spousal veto on gender recognition in Scotland, the human right of a married trans person to get legal recognition of your gender will be respected as your decision, and not one that can be blocked by your spouse. For more information see Gender recognition