Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 19 December 2005

The Western Isles opts out of Civil Partnerships legislation

The Western Isles of Scotland have said that none of its registrars wish to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies and the Council, along with church ministers in the islands, backs them in this.

According to this article in the Scotsman, though, the Scottish Executive in Edinburgh is determined to ensure that civil partnerships be "available right across Scotland and they would use all the powers open to them to make sure this happened". One method they are considering is to fly outside registrars into the islands to carry out civil partnerships. A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive is quoted in the Scotsman article as saying:

"There are powers in the act which will allow the Registrar General to authorise a registrar from out of the local authority area to register a civil partnership. We would hope not to have to use these powers and will look at everything on an individual basis, but the powers are available."

- it seems that the Scottish Executive hopes that their determination to thwart the efforts of Western Isles Council, to make the carrying out of these ceremonies locally an extremely difficult process, will avoid a high profile case being brought before the European Court of Human Rights (or under the domestic Human Rights Act?). I can understand this, but I am not so sure that avoiding such a confrontation is the best long-term option. I'd suggest a better way of bringing these 'cowboys' to book would be to cut off all subsidies for the ferry crossing to the mainland and any subsidy which airlines receive for flying there as well, and let these small-minded bigotted islanders 'stew in their own juices' for several months! The Western Isles is said to be very beautiful in parts, but I have always avoided going there, because it sounds such a miserable place ...

To end on a more positive note, the Scotsman article notes also that roughly 150 couples across Scotland have indicated an intention to contract Civil Partnership agreements.

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