The first Scottish same-sex couple has legally married after the country’s historic marriage equality legislation came into effect on Tuesday.
Douglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster converted their Scottish civil partnership to a Scottish marriage at the British Consulate in Melbourne, Australia, as soon as the law came into effect at one minute past midnight UK time on Dec. 16.
Prestsell, 47, originally from Edinburgh, and Gloster, 47, from Melbourne, have been together for seven years and had their civil partnership in August 2010 at Fenton Tower in North Berwick, East Lothian.
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“We are so proud of Scotland for introducing equal marriage, and we hope that other countries like Australia will soon follow Scotland’s lead,” the couple said. “We always considered our civil partnership to be our marriage, but in the eyes of the law and society it wasn’t held in the same regard.”
“This is an important step forward for equality both in terms of the law, but also in the way that LGBTI people will be viewed and treated in our society,” they said.
From today, same-sex couples will be able to give notice of their intention to marry, and following the usual 15 day notice period the first same-sex marriage ceremonies will take place on Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve in Scotland).
However, Scotland’s first same-sex marriages can officially begin Tuesday as couples in Scottish civil partnerships can convert them to marriage.
As well, couples already in a same-sex marriage performed in another country will also now be recognized as married in Scotland.
Also under the new law, married transgender individuals will be able to have their gender identity legally recognized without having to obtain the consent of their spouse.
Scotland became the 17th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in February 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.
“As a Government, we are proud to have introduced one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world,” said Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland. “I believe that the love between a couple, regardless of their gender, sexuality, belief or background, is powerful and should be valued and recognized.”
“Today is both a day of celebration and a hugely important step forward for LGBTI rights in Scotland that has one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world,” said Tom French of Scotland’s Equality Network. “We wish all those couples who are getting married today, and those planning to do so in future, all the best.”
“Today is both a day of celebration and a hugely important step forward for LGBTI rights in Scotland that has one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world.”
Colin Macfarlane, Director, Stonewall Scotland told KaleidoScot: “This is a day of celebration and we know these ceremonies will be a wonderful early Christmas present for many couples, their friends and families.”