The Scottish Government has been conducting a consultative process on its intention to institute marriage equality by legislating to lift the ban on same-sex marriage in Scotland. Such legislation will enable same-sex couples to register as a married couple, whilst today they are restricted to a “civil partnership.”
But the most organized and vociferous campaign against same-sex marriage has been headed by the Scottish Catholic Church — its leader, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has recently said that same-sex marriage will be “forfeiting the trust” of the nation, and “shaming Scotland in the eyes of the world.”
O’Brien has further argued that “all children deserve to begin life with a mother and father, the evidence in favor of the stability and well being which this provides is overwhelming and unequivocal.”
One of the studies was by Paul Cameron, who argued in a 1998 paid for publication that same-sex relationships “lead to shorter life expectancies” which further compares homosexuality to “tobacco addiction” claiming it “damages health” in a similar way.
Cameron’s peculiar theories have been completely discredited as valid “research”. Cameron was deregistered and denounced by the American Psychological Association in 1983, by the Nebraska Psychological Association in 1984, and the American Sociological Association in 1985 and 1986. In 2007 the president of the Eastern Psychological Association publicly chided Cameron, who stated he “presented” a manuscript before their convention.
Patrick Harvie, Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) and co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party who is openly bisexual and longtime adovocate of LGBTQ Rights, told LGBTQ Nation he was disappointed that “the Catholic Church uses discredited research to back their view point.”
He added that the “Scottish government will discount evidence based on flawed research of this nature.” Such a campaign seems to have been imported from the U.S. where “there is a more long running anti-equality campaign, and it is puzzling to me that the Catholic Church of Scotland uses these arguments rather than philosophical or moral ones.”
“We know that a majority of Catholics are in favor of same sex marriage as this has been confirmed by two Scottish social attitude surveys (2006, 2010) sponsored by the Scottish Government,” said Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, a national organization working for LGBT rights and equality in Scotland.
“The surveys found that over 50 percent of Catholics support same-sex marriage and only 20-30 percent are opposed. So even within the Catholic Church in Scotland the majority of its followers do not agree with the position the Church and the Cardinal have taken,” Hopkins said.
The 2010 survey further found that 61 percent of the Scottish public at large support same-sex marriage.
Some leaders within the Catholic Church of Scotland have also threatened that parties who support of same-sex marriage will alienate Catholic voters, but according to Hopkins, this seems unlikely.
“The Catholic Church has had historically quite a strong influence on politics in Scotland, traditionally on the Scottish Labour Party,” he said. However, Glasgow City Council, largely controlled by Labour with a majority of councilors who identify as Catholics, has recently voted unanimously to support same-sex marriage.
Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell said, “The Catholic leadership is actively seeking to maintain discrimination. It is out of touch with the majority of Scottish and UK people. Nearly two-thirds support marriage equality. Most ordinary, grassroots Catholics reject homophobic discrimination.”
The Scottish Government has completed its consultation and will now analyze the feedback and publish their response in spring along with a draft bill, which will be open for discussion and amendment until it put to vote probably at end of 2013.