Take a few minutes to ensure fairness for all, urge equal marriage campaigners

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SPEAK up for equality and help to build a fairer future for all – that’s the plea to supporters of Scotland’s equal marriage bill.

Public consultation on the legislation closes at 5pm on Wednesday, March 20.

The Equality Network – the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality charity that established the Equal Marriage campaign in Scotland – are encouraging people to “grab the chance to speak up for LGBT equality.”

You can respond to the consultation by visiting the Equality Network’s Equal Marriage campaign website at http://www.equalmarriage.org.uk/consultation

Opponents of equality are running a campaign to encourage thousands of anti-equality submissions to the consultation in an attempt to block same-sex marriage and roll back LGBT equality in other areas such as education and public services.

Scotland for Marriage, the umbrella group opposing same-sex marriage in Scotland, are encouraging supporters to send in a series of demands to the Scottish Government as part of the consultation.

The Equality Network warn that ceding to these demands would bring back Section 28-style discrimination in schools, and set back the principle of equality for LGBT people in public services.

Tom French, policy co-ordinator for the Equality Network, said: “With time running out it is vital that we encourage people to speak up for LGBT equality by responding to the consultation on Scotland’s equal marriage bill.

“Opponents of LGBT equality are running a very well-funded campaign to block same-sex marriage and roll back LGBT equality in other areas.

“If people want a progressive bill that stands up for equality it is crucial that they make their voice heard now.”

The consultation is about the equal marriage legislation for Scotland, and respondents must indicate whether they reside in ‘Scotland’, ‘Rest of UK’ or ‘Rest of world’ as appropriate on the online consultation form.

Following the consultation the Scottish Government will make any changes to their proposals before introducing a final version of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) bill to the Scottish Parliament in the summer.

The Equality Network point out that as well as preventing setbacks to LGBT equality, responding to the consultation also offers people the chance to voice whether the draft proposals could be improved.

The Equality Network say that in particular they are working to lift the ban on mixed-sex civil partnership and improve the gender recognition process for transgender people amongst other changes they would like to see made.

The Network guide to the consultation and the Scottish Government proposals can be read at http://www.equalmarriage.org.uk/consultation

Two-thirds of MSPs have now signed the Equality Network’s ‘Equal Marriage Pledge’, committing themselves to voting in favour of same-sex marriage.

Signatories include First Minister Alex Salmond, all Cabinet Ministers, and the leaders of all four opposition parties. Whilst 87 MSPs have now said they will vote in favour, 11 remain publicly opposed.

Opinion polls have shown consistent public support for same-sex marriage across Scotland.

Most countries around Scotland already have same-sex marriage, including Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Spain and Portugal. Same-sex marriage legislation is in the process of being passed in both France, and England and Wales.

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