McConnell backs gay marriage proposals

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FORMER Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Jack McConnell has backed the introduction of same-sex marriage legislation.

In a public letter to the Equality Network, the ex-First Minister has urged the Scottish Government to ‘go for equality over discrimination’ by choosing to back equal marriage in Scotland.

He argues that ‘homophobic prejudice and discrimination is no longer an accepted or tolerated part of Scottish society’.

While First Minister, Lord McConnell oversaw the introduction of Civil Partnerships but, now believes they do not go far enough.

He wrote: “Whilst Civil Partnerships were the right thing for the Scotland of 2005, it is clear that attitudes have progressed, and that now is the time to give LGBT people the full legal and social equality that they deserve - not as second-class citizens with fewer rights and a lesser status. Scotland should take this opportunity to join with progressive countries around the world, and prove that we are enlightened, compassionate and forward-thinking as a nation.”

The Equality Network welcomed Lord McConnell’s timely intervention, hoping it will increase pressure on the Scottish Government to announce legislation.

Policy coordinator Tom French said: “As First Minister, Jack McConnell worked to reduce inequality and prejudice in Scotland, and we welcome the continuation of this work by his successor.”

The public consultation on same-sex marriage closed in December with over 50,000 responses with opinion polls suggesting 64 per cent of Scots are favour of a change in the law.

The Scottish Government is due to publish the results of the consultation and announce its decision this month.

So far 74 MSPs have committed to voting in favour of same-sex marriage, whilst nine remain opposed.