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The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill – what does it do?

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If it is passed in its current form, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill would:

  • Allow same-sex couples to marry, either in a civil ceremony conducted by a registrar, or a religious or belief ceremony conducted by a religious or belief (eg, Humanist) organisation that chooses to conduct same-sex marriages.
  • Allow gender recognition for one or both spouses in a Scottish marriage, without the need for divorce.
  • Allow gender recognition for a person who is in a Scottish civil partnership, with the civil partnership being changed to a mixed-sex marriage. The start date of the marriage will be backdated to the start date of the civil partnership.
  • Allow gender recognition for both people in a Scottish civil partnership, without dissolving the civil partnership.
  • Allow couples who registered a civil partnership in Scotland to change it to a marriage. The start date of the marriage will be backdated to the start date of the civil partnership. There will be two ways to make this change: the couple can marry in the usual way (in a civil ceremony, or a religious or belief ceremony by an organisation that has chosen to conduct same-sex marriages), or the couple can simply fill in a form and supply the necessary ID.
  • Allow religious or belief organisations that choose to, to conduct civil partnership ceremonies, as an alternative to having the ceremony conducted by a registrar. Religious or belief civil partnership ceremonies will be allowed to include religious or belief content (which is not allowed for civil ceremonies).
  • Allow religious or belief organisations to decide for themselves whether to conduct same-sex marriages and/or civil partnerships.
  • Fix a problem in the law that dealt with the dissolution of civil partnerships via the “simplified procedure” between 2006 and 2012.

The bill also makes some changes not connected with LGBT equality, including:

  • Clarifying the rules for approving religious and belief bodies to conduct marriages and/or civil partnerships
  • Relaxing some restrictions on the places where civil marriages can be conducted
  • Increasing the notice period for marriage from 14 to 28 days.