Scotland has become the latest country to recognize homosexuality and legalize same-sex marriages.
Buzzfeed reports that the Scottish parliament on Tuesday voted to pass the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill by a margin of 105-18, with the first unions set to be conducted in the autumn.
“I believe this bill will have a hugely positive impact on our society and on the health and well-being of LGBT of people in our country,” MSP Jim Eadie said during the debate. “Scotland now has one of the most progressive equal marriage bills in the world. Allowing the option of gender-neutral marriage ceremonies will provide genuine equality for all, including transgender people.”
“This is a profound moment in our nation’s history,” he added.
Politicians cheered as the parliament gave its approval to the bill. It received cross-party backing, despite opposition from both the Scottish Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland.
Religious groups and officials authorised to conduct weddings will not be required to hold same-sex ceremonies. Instead they will have the freedom to opt-in to the law and conduct such ceremonies if they so which.
Same-sex marriage legislation for England and Wales was passed by the Westminster parliament in 2013, with the first marriages in those countries set to take place next month.
The exact date for the first same-sex marriage in Scotland depends on when the Westminster parliament amends existing legislation to ensure officials who refuse to conduct same-sex marriages are protected under the law.
Following a successful campaign by transgender activists the Scottish law will also end the so-called “spousal veto”, which required transgender people to receive written permission from their spouse before their gender can be recognised in law. This rule remains in place across the rest of the United Kingdom.