Give Gay Marriages Equality, Says MSP

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AN influential group of MSPs is to call on Ministers to consider the introduction of gay marriages, it emerged yesterday.

Lib-Dem MSP Nora Radcliffe, who speaks on sexual orientation issues, has won the support of the Equal Opportunities Committee to hold talks with Justice Minister Jim Wallace on the subject.

Same- sex relationships have already been given equal status in law under the European Convention of Human Rights, which prevents discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

But the recognition of gay marriage under civil law would go further by giving same-sex couples access to the same benefits as married couples, such as tax and pension entitlements.

Miss Radcliffe said: 'Same-sex marriage is an issue that has to be discussed and parity of same-sex couples has to happen.' However, family campaigners, believe gay weddings would undermine the social institution of marriage as a fundamental pillar of society.

Miss Radcliffe said she would write to Mr Wallace after presenting a report on sexual orientation to the Equal Opportunities Committee yesterday.

She argued that it was vital to discuss the subject openly. But committee members argued that the issues of gay equality and marriage should be separated.

Shona Robison, SNP MSP for North- East Scotland, said: 'The priority was about parity under the law and I am worried that some of that could be lost with the issue of same-sex marriages. We must make sure that we separate the issues.' Kate Maclean, the committee's Labour convener, also appeared to backtrack from Miss Radcliffe's stance. She said the committee had not reached a firm position on same-sex marriages and that the gay community remained divided over the issue. …