Marriage (same sex couples) – England, Wales and Scotland

Marriage (same sex couples) – England, Wales and Scotland

When was marriage for same sex couples introduced?

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 introduced same sex marriage in England and Wales. It came into force on 13th March 2014. The first marriages took place on 29th March 2014. Section 9 granted any couple registered in a civil partnership the ability to convert that partnership into marriage.


The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced same sex marriage in Scotland. It came into force on 16th December 2014.The first marriages for couples in a civil partnership took place on the same day. For others the first marriage took place on the 31st December 2014.


Same sex marriage is not performed or recognised in Northern Ireland


Who supported marriage for same sex couples?

Marriage for same sex couples was introduced after years of campaigning. Civil partnerships were accepted as a step forward. For many people the exclusion from marriage was seen as discriminatory. Social attitudes had changed with many more people supporting LGBT equality. During the 2010 general election many political parties supported or would consider supporting same sex marriage. The largest Christian denominations were opposed to recognising and performing same-sex marriages. There were muslim and Jewish campaigns against as well.


The Equality network in Scotland started the ‘Equal Marriage’ campaign in Scotland in 2008. ‘Scotland for Marriage’ was a campaign against same sex marriage started in 2011. In England and Wales Peter Tatchell started the ‘Equal Love’ campaign. The ‘Coalition for Marriage’ was a campaign against same sex marriage started in 2012. In Northern Ireland Gary Spedding started a campaign to change social attitudes and lobby for same sex marriage. Many campaigns for and against followed across the UK.


How was same sex marriage achieved?

In England and Wales the government held a consultation on equal civil marriage in March 2012. 53% of  responses were in support. The government said it would go ahead and introduce civil marriages. It introduced protections for religious freedoms. The Scottish Government announced it would legalise same sex marriage in July 2012. They also introduced religious protections. 


Same sex marriage has not been achieved in Northern Ireland. It has been debated in the Northern Ireland Assembly five times since 2012. Two legal challenges over human rights have been heard in the High Court. The decision went against them. The judgment on an appeal is expected in 2019.


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