The Equality and Human Rights Commission defines marriage as a ´union between a man and a woman´. Same-sex couples can have their relationships legally recognised as ´civil partnerships´. Civil partners must be treated the same as married couples on a wide range of legal matters.
The Equality Act 2010 came into force in October 2010 and provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.
There are nine ‘protected characteristics’ under the Act, including marriage and civil partnership The new public sector equality duty in the Act came into force in April 2011. The duty places an obligation on public authorities to take action to eradicate discrimination, proactively promote equality of opportunity, and to foster good relations across relevant protected characteristics.
The Equality Duty applies to marriage and civil partnership, but only in respect of the requirement to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation. This is because the first aim of the duty extends to all conduct that is prohibited under the Act. The Equality Duty does not require public authorities to have due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity between married people or people in civil partnership and others, nor to foster good relations between married people or people in civil partnerships and others.
The Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 22 March 2011 to provide a specific civil remedy for those threatened with forced marriage and those already in such a marriage. The Act received Royal Assent on 27 April 2011 and came into force on 28 November 2011.
A forced marriage is where one or both parties do not, or, in the case of some adults with learning or physical disabilities, cannot, consent to the marriage and duress is involved. Duress includes both physical and emotional pressure. It is very different from arranged marriage, where both parties give their full and free consent to the marriage
Source: NHS Health Scotland – Equalities
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014
In February, Scotland became the 17th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage after the Scottish Parliament passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 by an overwhelming 105 votes to 18, the third strongest majority for any same-sex marriage legislation in the world. The Act received Royal Assent in March and the Scottish Government has since been implementing the new law including passing the necessary secondary legislation to bring it into effect.
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 came into effect at midnight meaning that from 31st December 2014:
- Same-sex couples will be able to give notice to their intention to marry and, following the usual 15 day notice period for new marriages, the first same-sex marriage ceremonies took place on Hogmanay (31 December 2014).
- Those couples in current Scottish civil partnerships can choose, if they wish, to convert their civil partnership to marriage.
- Those couples with foreign same-sex marriages will be recognised as married in Scotland. Previously they were recognised as civil partners.
- Married transgender people will no longer be forced to divorce the person they love before they are allowed to have the gender they live as recognised in law. Furthermore, because there is no ‘spousal veto’ on gender recognition in Scotland, the decision of a married trans person to get legal recognition of their gender will now be respected as their human right, and not a decision that can be blocked by a spouse.
Further information available from Stonewall Scotland