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LGBT Marriages Now Legal In Scotland

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 6, 2014 2:47 PM EST

Overwhelmingly voted by 105 votes against 18, same-sex marriage is now legalized in Scotland despite strong opposition from the country's various religious institutions.

The Scottish government maintained the passage of the country's same-sex marriage bill was an important step for equal rights.

"It is only right that same sex couples should be able to freely express their love and commitment to each other through getting married," Alex Neil, Scotland cabinet secretary for health and well being, said in a statement.

Larry Lamont and Jerry Slater (L) take part in a symbolic same-sex marriage outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland February 4, 2014. Scotland voted on Tuesday to allow same-sex marriages, becoming the 17th country to give the green light to gay marriages and paving the way for the first wedding ceremonies later this year.  REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Larry Lamont and Jerry Slater (L) take part in a symbolic same-sex marriage outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland February 4, 2014. Scotland voted on Tuesday to allow same-sex marriages, becoming the 17th country to give the green light to gay marriages and paving the way for the first wedding ceremonies later this year. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

"Marriage is about love, and that has always been at the heart of this issue."

Until 1980, being gay was considered a criminal offense in Scotland. "This is a profoundly emotional moment for many people," Tom French, policy coordinator for the Equality Network, said in a statement.

As expected, the country's religious institutions, such as Scottish Catholic Church and Presbyterian Church of Scotland, blasted the historic achievement.

Under the new bill, religious entities in Scotland aren't forced to solemnize same-sex unions. In the previous law, same-sex civil marriages can only be held in a place agreed between the couple and the registrar, but not within religious premises.

"At a time in Scotland when we are considering what kind of nation we want to live in, this legislation sends all the wrong signals about the place of marriage and family in modern day Scotland," Fred Drummond, Evangelical Alliance Scotland spokesman, said.

Scotland becomes the 17th global nation to allow and legalize same-sex marriages. The Netherlands was the first in 2001.

Other nations that legalized same-sex marriage are Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay. Parts of the U.S. and Mexico have also legalized gay marriages.

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Larry Lamont and Jerry Slater (L) take part in a symbolic same-sex marriage outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland February 4, 2014. Scotland voted on Tuesday to allow same-sex marriages, becoming the 17th country to give the green light to gay marriages and paving the way for the first wedding ceremonies later this year. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
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