[JURIST] The Scottish Parliament [official website] on Tuesday passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill [text, PDF], in a 105 to 18 vote [minutes, text]. The final vote in favor of the bill came after a detailed consideration of the bill by parliamentary committees. Same-sex couples in Scotland currently have the right to enter into civil partnerships, but this law will allow same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed by individuals and religious entities that affirm their desire [BBC report] to perform such ceremonies. Individuals and religious entities wishing to abstain from performing same-sex marriage ceremonies are permitted to do so. The bill was originally introduced in June by Alex Neil [official profile], a member of the parliament and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. The first same-sex marriage ceremonies are expected to take place [Guardian report] in Scotland as early as autumn of this year, after necessary remaining formalities are completed regarding the passage of the bill.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] remains a controversial issue among the international community. Last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] criticized [JURIST report] Nigeria’s new law on the prohibition of same-sex marriage, calling the legislation a direct violation of basic, universal human rights. The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill allows a 14-year prison sentence for anyone who enters into a same-sex union and a 10-year sentence for anyone who either aids and abets a same-sex marriage or supports the sustenance of “gay societies.” In December Croatia’s parliament proposed a bill [JURIST report] that would grant new rights to same-sex couples, such as the right to inherit property from each other and the right to represent each other as next of kin. Also in December the EU Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] that in countries in which same-sex couples cannot legally marry, same-sex couples in a legal union are entitled to the same legal benefits as married couples. In the same month, the High Court of Australia struck down [JURIST report] the Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act of 2013, which allowed same-sex couples to marry within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).