Will Scotland become the same sex marriage capital of the world? By Denise Laverty

Marriage | 13 Jul 2015 1

The media hype following the change in law which allowed first civil partners in England and Wales and in Scotland to marry may have died down but if a draft order currently before the Scottish government – the Qualifying Civil Partnership Modification (Scotland) Order 2015 – becomes law then media attention will heighten once again and the spotlight is sure to return to Scotland.

Civil partners in Scotland have been allowed to marry since December 31 2014 and in England and Wales since 10 December 2014. Who can forget the photos posted by Sir Elton John of his marriage to David Furnish, surrounded by numerous celebrities and the couple’s two adorable sons? On 22 May 2015, following a referendum the Irish Republic also voted for same sex marriage and it is estimated that the first same sex marriages there will take place there in August.

But what if your civil partnership was not registered in Scotland, England and Wales or Eire or any other country that allows same sex marriage? Is marriage not an option? Not if the Qualifying Civil Partnership Modification (Scotland) Order 2015 becomes law. The consultation period on the draft order closed on 6 July 2015 and the responses have not yet been published, but if the order becomes law it will amend the definition of ‘qualifying civil partnership’ within the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, also modifying the Marriage ( Scotland) Act 1977. The effect of these changes will be will be to allow people in a same sex civil partnership registered outside Scotland to change that civil partnership into a marriage through having a marriage ceremony in Scotland. There will be no residency requirement, only the usual period of notice for all marriages in Scotland.

The Scottish Government recognises that there can be no guarantees in relation to whether such a marriage would be recognised outside Scotland, and this is something same sex couples may wish to take legal advice on before they proceed with the ceremony. What is clear is that this is a push by Holyrood for the maximum possible recognition of same sex relationships across the world and it is also an acknowledgement of the increasing international mobility of the world’s population.

London has often been dubbed as the divorce capital of the world. Will Scotland soon sit alongside it as the same sex marriage capital of the world?

Denise is an accredited specialist in family law and a qualified solicitor in Scotland, England and Wales with over 22 years experience. She is recognised as a leader in her field and is considered ‘one to watch’ by the latest Chambers and Partners’ guide to the legal profession. She is part of the Family Law Team at bto solicitors who are based in Edinburgh and Glasgow and has experience of both the Sheriff Courts and the Court of Session.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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    1. Andrew says:

      Gretna Pink?
      Joking apart: the three British jurisdictions would do well to warn same-sex couples in writing who are not both British citizens that their marriage may not be recognised in their country of citizenship – and to keep a signed copy of that warning, in the hope that those concerned will take it seriously. It does people no favour to confer on them a status which will not be recognised where it matters.

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