The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has turned up the heat on the Scottish Government following its rejection of a gay marriage referendum.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien said the Scottish people must decide the issue because it raises “serious implications for freedom of belief and expression”.
Earlier this week the SNP-led Scottish Government ruled out a nation-wide vote, but it did set up a Cabinet sub-committee to examine the legal problems of redefining marriage.
Cardinal O’Brien said: “The serious implications for freedom of belief and expression of redefining marriage should be as important to a free society as any constitutional matter.
“In setting up a sub-committee to examine the implications of redefining marriage, we have at least an acknowledgement of the grave concerns raised.
“In light of the unprecedented strength of response to the consultation paper, I remain eager to hear the outcome of the consultation and to have an indication of how the people of Scotland regard the issue.”
The Government’s consultation on the matter closed in December after receiving 77,000 responses. Reports indicate they are running 2:1 against the proposal.
Speaking in Edinburgh Alex Salmond said that proposals to hold a referendum had been carefully considered and were not dismissed out of hand.
The First Minister said: “We compared the circumstances in which you have referendums and the issues on which you conduct them, and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t appropriate for a matter of conscience.”
The Government had been expected to announce whether it intended to proceed with plans to introduce same-sex marriage following a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
But following the meeting it emerged that the decision had once again been delayed. It is now expected before the end of July.