Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts

October 29, 2017

Gay Men Will Receive An Apology from The Scottish Government


Kilts and sporrans of wedding coupleImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The first minister is to apologise on behalf of the Scottish government to gay men convicted of now-abolished sexual offences.
Nicola Sturgeon will make the apology at Holyrood on 7 November to coincide with new legislation giving an automatic pardon to those affected.
The legislation was promised by Ms Sturgeon when she presented her programme for government in September.
The law will also allow the removal of such crimes from criminal records. 
A Scottish government spokesman said that Ms Sturgeon would apologise to those convicted prior to 2001 under discriminatory laws against same-sex sexual activity that is now legal.

'Historic wrong'

He added: "The apology will be made on behalf of the Scottish government for the treatment of homosexual men under previous governments and will coincide with the introduction of legislation to provide people convicted under these laws an automatic pardon.
"The bill will right a historic wrong and give justice to those who found themselves unjustly criminalised simply because of who they loved."
The legislation was first confirmed by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson in October last year.
He announced plans for automatic pardons just days after the similar legislation was scuppered at Westminster.

Michael matheson
Image captionThe legislation was first confirmed by Michael Matheson in October last year

That happened after a private member's bill by the SNP's John Nicolson, which would have pardoned all men living with UK convictions, was "talked out" of the Commons.
The UK government failed to support that private member's bill in favour of bringing forward its own plans
Under its Policing and Crime Act, gay and bisexual men convicted of now-abolished sexual offences in England and Wales received posthumous pardons. Those who are living can be pardoned after the secretary of state agrees the conduct is no longer criminal.
Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, said: "The apology is important because it shows that it was the discriminatory laws that were wrong and not the consensual relationships that were made criminal by those laws. 
"We look forward to seeing the detail of the bill.
"If it implements the policy announced by the Scottish government, it will be a hugely important statement that Scotland regrets the discrimination of the past, and now considers its LGBTI people to be fully equal citizens who deserve equal respect.
"It will also be of direct practical importance to people who currently have one of these convictions show up on criminal record checks for jobs or volunteer posts."


August 7, 2017

The Beautiful Scottish Players Sign Up to Back LGBT Rights

 These two Scots go further and got married

Professional football clubs in all four divisions backed an agreement on participation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In what has been described as a Scottish first, some of the country's biggest clubs have signed up to the LGBT Sports Charter.
The charter aims to encourage access to the sport for LGBT people.
Equality Network development manager Scott Cuthbertson said the move would help create a "more inclusive" game.

He said: "We're delighted that these clubs, from across all four SPFL divisions, are today making a commitment to LGBT supporters, officials and the next generation of LGBT players.
"Today's message is loud and clear, everyone is welcome at football and we are working for a more inclusive game.
"We don't yet have any openly LGBT professional players in the men's professional game in Scotland but we know there are plenty of LGBT fans."
'Sport for all'                                        
Rangers striker Kenny Miller said: "Rangers is an inclusive club and strives to promote equality and inclusion and we are delighted to sign up to the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter.
"Everyone should be able to take part, enjoy and succeed in sport whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity and we are proud to support this initiative."
Celtic's Scott Brown added: "This is an issue which needs to be addressed and tackled and therefore we are delighted to sign up to the Charter, and promote the very important message that sport is for all."
The clubs backing the charter are Aberdeen, Celtic, Hearts, Hibs, Partick Thistle, Rangers St Johnstone, Dumbarton, Airdrieonians, Albion Rovers, Forfar Athletic, Elgin City and Peterhead.
Partick Thistle managing director Ian Maxwell said: "Football can be a very powerful tool to help fight all types of discrimination. 
"Football is a universal language so no matter what your race, religion, background, gender or sexuality, kicking a ball about or watching your team on a Saturday helps put everyone on a level playing field."

in Scotland

June 12, 2017

Theresa May Needs to Bring Anti Gay Rights Scotland into her Government to Stay on 10 Downing St.

 What a difference a day make! Here Some Uk Lawmakers Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage in England. It is those rights which Scotland has never approve of or most gay rights for that matter. Theresa May needs to bring them (Scottish) into her government in order to have a coalition to keep her at 10 Downing St.

The Scottish Secretary David Mundell has called on the Democratic Unionist Party to "change its position" on LGBTI issues.

Theresa May is due to meet the DUP leader Arlene Foster on Tuesday to finalize a deal on propping up her minority government.

Mr. Mundell, the Conservative MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale, and Tweeddale who has been reappointed Scottish Secretary, became the first openly-gay Conservative Cabinet secretary when he came out in January 2015. 

Questioned on the DUP's stance on gay rights, he said he does "not subscribe" to the Northern Irish party's position.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles where same-sex marriage remains outlawed.

The DUP has repeatedly used a controversial Stormont voting mechanism - the petition of concern - to prevent legalization despite a majority of MLAs supporting the move at the last vote.
Mr. Mundell told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland program: "I don't subscribe to the DUP's position on these issues but the DUP will not be influencing these decisions within the rest of the United Kingdom.

"We're not in anyway signing up to the DUP manifesto. Most of these issues are devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly."

He added: "I would like to see the DUP change its position, and indeed Northern Ireland as a whole change its position, on LGBTI issues.

"Ruth Davidson has been very clear on that, she actually went out to Northern Ireland and set that out, so they can't be in any doubt where they stand on these issues. 

"I think change is brought about, certainly in Northern Ireland, by persuasion, by people working together and the best way actually to achieve these is to get the Northern Ireland Assembly back up and running, and I hope that will also be possible."

Nicola Sturgeon has said careful scrutiny of any deal with the DUP will be needed to guard against any rollback of equalities legislation and has also raised concerns about the impact on the Northern Irish peace process.

Writing in the Daily Record, she said: "The Good Friday Agreement requires the UK Government to be an impartial broker between parties in Northern Ireland and it would be shameful if, in the Tories' pursuit of power, they jeopardized the chances of a return to devolved government in Northern Ireland."

June 9, 2017

Scottish Episcopal Church Comes Out For Gay Marriage

The Scottish Episcopal Church has voted to allow gay couples to marry in church.
It makes it the first major Christian church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages.
The vote to amend canon law on marriage, removing the stipulation that it is between a man and a woman, was carried by the Synod in Edinburgh.
It means that gay Christians from any Anglican Church can now ask to be married in a Scottish Episcopal Church.
Clergy who wish to officiate at gay marriages will have to "opt-in".
The church said this meant that those who disagreed with gay marriage would be protected and not have to act against their conscience.
The Episcopal Church's Bishop of Edinburgh, The Right Reverend Dr John Armes, said: "I am very pleased for the couples who can now have their relationships recognised by the church and blessed by God.
"I'm also pleased for what this means about our church and the way we have been able to do this. But obviously any change like this creates pain and hurt in some as well, so as a bishop of the church I feel for them."

Passionate debate

The vote to allow same-sex marriage - which required the backing of at least two thirds of each house of Bishops, Clergy and Laity - has left the church at odds with most of the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
A group of global Anglican traditionalists have now announced that they will appoint a missionary bishop "to serve the needs of those who oppose gay marriage". 
A senior figure in the group, Archbishop Foley Beach, said: "Today's decision by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change the biblical and historic definition of marriage has highlighted the need to respond to the cries and pleas of those Scots who today have been marginalised by their leaders.
"The attempt to redefine marriage is not one that a faithful Christian can support."
At last year's Synod, members of the Church agreed to send the issue for discussion to its seven dioceses.
Six of them voted in favour of amending the law. Only Aberdeen and Orkney voted against the proposal.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
 Image copyrightGETTY                    

Image captionThe Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is the Anglican Communion's spiritual head

Analysis by BBC Scotland correspondent John McManus

This vote to change canon law, opening marriage to same sex couples, isn't just the latest skirmish in the religious war between traditionalist Christians and those of a more liberal leaning.
It will have profound consequences, because the issue of gay relationships has become a touchstone for those who believe that the Anglican Church has lost its way, and needs to be renewed.
Many Christians who live in the global south, where the 80-plus million Anglican Communion is at its strongest, look with horror at what they see as moves to legitimise gay relationships and lifestyles.

'Ignoring the will of God'

They not only disapprove of those lifestyles, but they see moves such as the ordination of gay clergy as evidence that the church is ignoring the will of God.
The head of the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Canterbury and he's come under enormous pressure from bishops in Africa and Asia to stand firm on this issue.
Those bishops are growing in influence and have formed an organisation - Gafcon - which is directly challenging the more liberal Christians of the global north.
They will be emboldened by this vote, even if they disapprove of it - and it may hasten a split in the communion, with power moving south to the churches of Africa.

Same sex marriage became legal in Scotland at the end of 2014 but the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church opposed the move.
The issue has provoked passionate debate within the Anglican Communion. 
In January last year, the communion sanctioned the US Episcopal Churchwhen it decided to allow gay marriage in church. 
However, last month the Church of Scotland voted to approve a report which could allow ministers to conduct same-sex weddings in the future. 
And in February, a report opposing gay marriage was opposed by the Church of England's Synod.

'Departure from faith'

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion described the Episcopal Church's decision as "a departure from the faith and teaching upheld by the overwhelming majority of Anglican provinces on the doctrine of marriage".
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said: "The churches of the Anglican Communion are autonomous and free to make their own decisions on canon law. The Scottish Episcopal Church is one of 38, soon to be 39, provinces covering more than 165 countries around the world. 
"As Secretary General, I want the churches within the Anglican Communion to remain committed to walking together in the love of Christ and to working out how we can maintain our unity and uphold the value of every individual in spite of deeply-held differences. It is important to stress the Communion's strong opposition to the criminalisation of LGBTIQ+ people.
"The primates of the Communion will be meeting in Canterbury in October. I am sure today's decision will be among the topics which will be prayerfully discussed. There will be no formal response to the SEC's vote until the primates have met." 

'Really positive message'

The equality campaign group Stonewall Scotland said it was "delighted" with the outcome of the vote.
The groups's director Colin Macfarlane said: "This step allows couples to celebrate their love within their faith and sends a really positive message to other LGBT people, both here and around the world.
"It signals that members of the church welcome, recognise and respect LGBT people as part of the faith community."
The Student Christian Movement UK said: "We hope this is a watershed for LGBT inclusion in UK churches.
"Our prayers go out to all LGBT Christians who have been hurt by the Episcopal Church, and we hope this may be a turning point for healing and reconciliation."

June 25, 2016

Scotland Home of His Emigrant Mother is Been Trumped

 He promised all green energy site (it never happened)  he destroyed the dunes instead. Promised and promised. No love lost in Scotland for the Donald. Today he stepped on Scotland soil a supporter of E.U. and dissed on the E.U.
As the Donald descended from the steps of Trump Force One and attempted to shield his wayward hair from the easterly winds sweeping across the Tarmac of Aberdeen airport, he would have expected a frosty reception. Trump, ignoring the record-breaking petition calling for him to be banned from the UK for “hate speech”, is in Scotland as part of a whistlestop tour of his two Scottish golf courses. The first port of call will be Turnberry – now renamed Trump Turnberry – after an investment claimed by the Trump Organisation to be £200m. But it is at his Menie estate in Aberdeenshire where the Mexican flags are flying high. 

Michael Forbes and David Milne, who were among the residents Trump threatened with compulsory purchase orders when they refused to sell him their properties to make way for a luxury golf resort, have hoisted the flags in a show of solidarity with the people of Mexico. Trump, of course, has pledged to build a 2,000-mile wall along the Mexican border “very inexpensively” to stop “rapists and drug dealers” from entering the US if he becomes president. And as the residents of the Menie estate know only too well, Trump has form on walls.

As I documented in my first Trump film, You’ve Been Trumped, at the crack of dawn one morning in 2010, the billionaire’s bulldozers sprang into action and began dumping thousands of tons of earth around the homes of local residents Susan Munro and David Milne, after the tycoon had branded their houses ugly. Trump’s builders (who had no planning permission for these works, according to the residents) had already been caught on camera, burying trees in an enormous hole next to the mounds of earth piled up to shield Forbes’s farm from the view of Trump’s golfers. Trump had blasted Forbes on national television for “living like a pig” and his working farm “a pigsty”.

In many ways, Trump’s loss-making development at the Menie estate is a microcosm of what’s been going on during his run for the White House. When Trump pledged to be the “jobs president”, Scots were quick to remember his broken promises on jobs. Trump claimed he would create 6,000 jobs through his golf course resort and spend £1bn building the “greatest luxury golf resort in the world”. In fact, no “resort” was ever built. Around 100 jobs have been created on the Menie estate and a single golf course is in operation, along with a granite-clad clubhouse. It is estimated he has spent less than 5% of the original investment pledged. Plans for a second golf course have yet to materialize – much to the relief of local residents who fear it would destroy another stretch of wild dunes.  

The non-partisan website PolitiFact has determined that Trump’s campaign statements are riddled with an astounding number of outright falsehoods. That’s hardly news to Forbes, who has the phrase “NO MORE TRUMP LIES” daubed on one of his farm sheds. Forbes has watched for more than a decade as the Trump claims and promises have come to nothing. The 450-bedroom hotel has never been built. The 1,500 houses failed to materialise. Instead a golf course for the wealthy now stands between him and his salmon fishing boat, with Forbes complaining he is unable to access the beach to fish.

Trump claimed his Menie estate golf course would be “environmentally perfect”. But in fact it destroyed the ability of the sand dunes to move and shift naturally, something that was highlighted by every credible environmental group in the land when his plans were first submitted.

Trump also insists he has been a good neighbour. But local residents think otherwise. In April, a woman walking on the dunes near Trump’s golf course was charged by police and accused of “a disgusting and shameful act” by the Trump Organization. Her crime? Answering a call of nature. This incident shook local residents, who had hoped the police had learned lessons after spending years appearing to act like a private security force for Trump. I should know. The police arrested me and threw me in jail, for daring to ask why Molly Forbes who is now 92, had her water supply cut off by Trump’s bulldozers.

He has used his money and access to power and the media to intimidate ordinary people
The bullying of local residents and failure to deliver on economic promises are perhaps the main reasons why the billionaire’s popularity rating in Scotland is at rock bottom. Former first minister Alex Salmond, who once enthusiastically welcomed the Trump development, now says the billionaire “couldn’t get elected the dog catcher” in Scotland. And as Trump steps up the rhetoric in his campaign to be president, with ideas such as banning all Muslims from the US, it is little wonder that Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen finally saw sense and stripped him of the ludicrous honorary degree he received in 2010.

While there has been endless debate about the many outrageous statements that Trump has made during the presidential campaign, the events at the Menie estate prove that what Trump says and what he does are two very different things. Here he used his money and access to power and the media to intimidate ordinary people; he made outrageous promises to hoodwink the gullible (including, alas, the Scottish government); and he showed a breathtaking disdain for the environmental toll of his relentless pursuit of personal gain. It is a cautionary tale for Americans going to the ballot box in November, and for the people of Britain, who have lost, for ever, an irreplaceable part of our common natural heritage.

Anthony Baxter
The Guardian

June 11, 2016

Scottish Episcopal’s Church Goes for Gay Marriage



The synod vote received support from five of seven bishops, 69% of the clergy and 80% of the laity - indicating that it has a good chance of succeeding when it returns next year.
If passed it would means Scottish Episcopal's would become the first major church in the UK to marry gay and lesbian couples in church.

This level of action is not happening within the Church of England, which will not conduct gay marriages, or allow clergy to be in a same-sex marriage.
The Scottish move could intensify the split within the wider Anglican Communion of 85 million Christians.

In January the Communion sanctioned the US Episcopal Church when it decided to allow gay marriage in church.
The church’s leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has struggled to keep the Communion together over the issue.

Lambeth Palace said the archbishop would not be commenting on the decision.
'Differing views'
Speaking after the vote, the secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said: “The churches of the Anglican Communion are autonomous and free to make decisions about policy.

"Today's decision is only the first step in the process of changing canon law on marriage.
“I would echo what the Archbishop of Canterbury said recently in Zimbabwe on same-sex marriage: there are differing views within the Anglican Communion but the majority one is that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and woman.

"He also stressed our primates' opposition to the criminalisation of LGBTIQ people."
Same sex marriage became legal in Scotland at the end of 2014 but Scotland's main churches - the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church - opposed the move.
The legislation was designed to allow religious and belief bodies to “opt-in" if they wanted to perform same-sex marriages.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is a Christian church with an estimated 90,000 adherents in Scotland.
Its synod is being held at St Paul’s and St George's Church in Edinburgh.

The Right Reverend Dr Gregor Duncan, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway and acting convener of the church’s Faith and Order Board, said: "The synod's decision this year is important because it represents the beginning of a formal process of canonical change.

"The church has been engaged in recent years in a series of discussions at all levels.
“The current process will enable the Church come to a formal decision on the matter."

Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, said: "This will put huge pressure on the Anglican and the many other churches to wave through same sex religious marriage. It is just a matter of time before more do so.”

November 30, 2015

Gay History of Scots


For many years Scotland just did not do gay. Homosexuality was dangerous and taboo, and it was actually against the law right up to the 1980s. So how did a country that seemed to take pride in its prejudices end up with the best gay rights in Europe?

Post-war Scotland was a deeply conservative place. In fact, half the country voted Tory in 1950 and most people attended the Kirk on a Sunday. Sex was rarely, if ever, mentioned.
If talking about the birds and bees in the 1950s was taboo then mention of the possibility of bees getting together with each other was totally forbidden.

Dr Jeff Meek, the author of Queer Voices in Post-War Scotland, says: "There was almost a bar on talking about same-sex desire."
He says homosexuality was something families, religious institutions, the medical profession and society at large all chose to ignore.

Acts of male homosexuality had been outlawed for centuries and were made stricter in the late 19th Century but same-sex contact between women had never been targeted in law and was not illegal.
Scottish society just chose to believe lassies did not do that kind of thing.
Author Val McDermid says: "When I was growing up the word lesbian was in our vocabulary but it was a kind of fabled beast like unicorns.
"You heard about them but you never met one. It was always someone’s cousin knew a lassie that knew one."

Gay men were known to exist but they did not fit the Scottish image of robust masculinity.
Homosexual men were forced underground to public toilets or illicit parties.
Dr Meek says: “The consequences of being caught were significant.

"You knew being caught meant being excluded from your family. You could be sacked for a hint of homosexuality, never mind a prosecution.”

Douglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster formalised their marriage in Sydney
People went to prison for sometimes two years or were locked up in psychiatric institutions.
In 1957, after a succession of well-known men were convicted of homosexual offenses, the Wolfenden report recommended that "homosexual behavior between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offense".

However, the Scottish representative on the Wolfenden Panel was James Adair.
Dr Meek says: “Adair disagreed with almost all the recommendations the main committee had come up with.

"He saw homosexuality as the first step into moral turpitude.
"The Scotland he loved would be lost. This upstanding, moral, conservative, religious society would descend into decay and would be destroyed.”

It took a decade for the recommendations of the Wolfenden report to be become law in England and Wales, decriminalising homosexuality for men over 21.
But because of James Adair, homosexuality in Scotland remained illegal, classified as criminally-depraved behavior.
In 1969, a brave group of gay Scots decided they could not change their sexuality so they set out to change Scotland.

The SMG (Scottish Minorities Group) arranged discos and get-togethers for gay men and for lesbian women.
They were very respectable events, usually held in a pub on a Monday or Tuesday night when there was little other business. They had rules about public displays of affection in order to keep within the law. Although small at first, word spread and the numbers grew.

The SMG started to make money and leased property in Broughton Street in Edinburgh where it set up the Gay Information Centre and operated a telephone helpline.
Writer, historian and gay activist Bob Cant says: "I think the Scottish Minorities Group deserves an enormous amount of credit. Their achievement in changing public consciousness was enormous."
Thirteen years after the law was reformed in England, Labour MP Robin Cook lodged an amendment in the Scottish Criminal Justice Bill and homosexuality was finally decriminalized in Scotland in 1980.

That decade saw an explosion of gay culture into the mainstream. In Scotland, the newly legalised gay men had a fantastic time. In Glasgow, the gay mecca was Bennets.

Social commentator Damian Barr tells a BBC Scotland documentary: "I could not have imagined a place like this existed. I'd not even seen a gay club on film or on television. It felt like Xanadu.

"To walk into a room and see all these men dancing together and kissing, I actually thought something bad was going to happen. I thought these people can't be allowed to have this much fun."
But along with fun came a new threat in the form of HIV/Aids.

If Scotland was ignorant about Aids it was rudely awoken in 1985, when 60% of injecting drug addicts tested at an Edinburgh hospital were found to be HIV positive.
As a result, the Scottish capital was labelled the HIV capital of Europe.

David Taylor, who was at Lothian health board in the 80s, says: “It certainly stuck as a label but it was blatantly untrue."

Despite the study relating to drug addicts and the figures being debatable, homosexual sex was once again portrayed as something to fear.

In 1987 Margaret Thatcher's government went to war with the gay community.
The prime minister told the Tory conference: “Children who need to be taught the traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay."

Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 prohibited "the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".
Historian Dr Amy Tooth Murray says: “Section 28 basically says 'you can not talk about non-heterosexual relationships at school'."

There was outrage and protests across the country at this rolling back of the rights of gay people but the law stayed in place until the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
One of its first acts was to repeal Section 28 but it had a battle on its hands.

Billionaire businessman and born-again Christian Brian Souter did not support the move and used his money to back a strong Keep the Clause campaign, which had the backing of Scotland's best-selling newspaper The Daily Record and the Roman Catholic Church.
The Scottish Executive stood firm and abolished the clause. Westminster followed suit three years later.

Journalist David Torrance says that despite being very unpleasant at the time it was a "cathartic" experience that got Scotland talking about gay rights issues and finally swept away the old attitudes.
Since the Millennium, Scots attitudes to homosexuality have changed dramatically.
Surveys show that a third of Scots actively approve of gay marriage and it is now homophobia that is taboo.

In 2005, civil partnerships were made legal for gay couples and the following year same-sex couples were able to adopt.
Last year, as the Commonwealth Games was being shown around the world, Scotland declared its new openness with a kilted gay kiss as part of the opening ceremony.

The year ended with gay marriage becoming legal in Scotland and the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, a lesbian, passionately supporting the move.
Earlier this year, Scotland was rated the best country in Europe in terms of legal equality for LGBT people.
A remarkable transformation in just a generation. A queer tale indeed.


August 27, 2014

If Scotland Votes Independence it Will Leave it Naked in Front of Moscow

But despite the fleet of nuclear submarines and surface vessels currently stationed around Scotland, defence experts say Scotland’s naval defences are actually rather weak. Dr John MacDonald, director of the Scottish Global Forum, says that Scotland’s navy is already suffering from a “profound and fundamental” weakness. As Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond claimed in a 2013 speech, “the navy does not have a single major surface vessel based in Scotland.” Another weakness of Scotland’s current navy is the lack of maritime patrol planes. In 2011, the British government decommissioned the last of its Nimrod fleet. For over 40 years, Hawker Siddeley Nimrod planes provided maritime reconnaissance as part of Operation Tapestry, the patrol of the U.K.’s coastland. After the decommissioning of the last active Nimrod in 2011, Scotland’s coast was left with no maritime patrol planes, and the planned upgrades to the fleet have been repeatedly delayed.

If Scotland goes independent, Trident will leave

A Nimrod plane taking off in 2009
A Nimrod plane taking off in 2009
If Scotland votes for independence, a process will begin that will see the country gradually transition to hosting its own naval force. The current plan is to build a force of 2,400 regular personnel working across two squadrons. An independent Scotland would almost certainly force the British government to remove Trident from the Faslane base, leaving the country without any nuclear-powered submarines. Removing the Trident force from Scotland is certainly possible, although it will be costly.
A study published by the Royal United Services Institute estimates the price of the move to be between £2.5 billion and £3.5 billion. That’s cheaper than some predictions had previously estimated, with one figure of £20 billion now seeming unreasonably high.
Two countries are being heralded as the blueprint for Scotland’s naval ambitions: Denmark and Norway. Scottish Global Forum director Dr MacDonald stated that the Royal Danish Navy is “providing the inspiration” for Scotland’s defence ambitions. Presently, the Royal Danish Navy has over 80 vessels, with the Royal Norwegian Navy comprising of a similar number of ships.HDMS Thetis of the Royal Danish Navy
HDMS Thetis of the Royal Danish Navy
While it’s established that Scotland is already lacking in naval defence forces, should we be worried about leaving Scotland without its full complement of submarines to patrol the icy waters around the River Clyde?
Many British government figures have expressed doubts over the plans laid out by Scotland’s government for the formation of a new naval defence force. A paper published by defence secretary Philip Hammond in 2013 claimed that Scotland will face an “immediate and pressing challenge” to establish its armed forces due to the small size of the £2.5 billion annual defence budget. As Scotland rushes to procure naval vessels, a newly independent Scotland could find itself facing a threat from overseas.

The Russians are always testing Scottish defenses

Almost every year, there are incidents around the Scottish coast involving the Russian Navy:
  • In 2010, a submarine that forms part of Britain’s Trident fleet was tracked by a specially upgraded Russian submarine as the English vessel attempted to leave the Faslane naval base in Scotland.
  • It was also reported in 2010 that British submarines were reporting the highest levels of contact with their Russian counterparts since the peak of the Cold War in 1987.
  • 2011 saw a Russian aircraft carrier caught dumping waste off Scotland’s coast after being tailed by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS York. At the time, the Scottish National Party’s defence spokesman Angus Robertson accused the Russian navy of “fly tipping” and “bad manners.”
  • Russian warships are continuing to encroach upon Scotland’s coast on a regular basis. The most recent incident occurred days before Christmas in 2013, when a Royal Navy vessel was dispatched from the south coast of England after a “Russian task group” sailed near to the Scottish coast while on a training exercise in the North Sea. The Ministry of Defence did not disclose whether the Russian vessels sailed close enough to the Scottish coast to have entered territorial waters.
While the above incidents may not sound alarming, every one of them involved a Royal Navy ship. As Scotland scrambles to either purchase or build its own ships in the model of the Danish Navy, could there be a rise in the number of times Russia decides to test the U.K.’s coastal defences? Some may expect a rise in occurrences during the difficult change-over period, but it’s possible that Russia might even lose interest. It’s currently estimated that Scotland could be rid of the nuclear submarines by 2020. If Faslane is emptied of its stock of thermonuclear warheads and nuclear submarines, will there be anything left for the Russian Navy to snoop around?
We don’t know for sure what Russia is actually doing in the seas around Scotland (if anything). If Scotland votes to become an independent country on Sept. 18, Britain will become the first country in the world to host its nuclear arsenal in an independent country, and Scotland faces a daunting six years of change in its armed forces. 

February 5, 2014

Scottish Parliament Votes for Gay Marriage

Scotland legalises gay marriage
Jerry Slater and Larry Lamont from Kircudbright, who are in a civil partnership and plan to marry under the new legislation, kiss outside the Scottish parliament. Photograph: Ken Jack/Demotix/Corbis
The first same-sex weddings in Scotland could take place in October after MSPs voted by a majority of 87 to legalise gay marriage.
The vote, passed by 105 to 18, came after the Scottish parliament voted down several attempts to amend the bill to add extra protections for religious celebrants who opposed the new law.
The amendments were backed by up to 21 MSPs, chiefly Catholic and Baptist churchgoers, but Alex Neil, the Scottish health secretary, argued there were already "robust protections" for religious organisations and celebrants.
"We have always maintained at the heart of this issue there is one simple fact: a marriage is about love," Neil said. "All couples in Scotland in a loving relationship must know that they have the same rights and responsibilities and, regardless of their gender, the same opportunity to get married."
Religious bodies will be allowed to carry out same-sex weddings if they formally opt in to the legislation; individual celebrants who still reject the reform after their churches introduce it will be protected, after the UK government agreed amendments to the Equalities Act.
Gay and civil rights campaigners were jubilant with the result. Tom French, policy co-ordinator for the Equality Network, said: "This is a profoundly emotional moment for many people who grew up in a country where being gay was still a criminal offence until 1980.
"Scotland can be proud that we now have one of the most progressive equal marriage bills in the world, and that we've sent out a strong message about the kind of country we are."
Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said it was a historic moment. "We're delighted that MSPs have overwhelmingly demonstrated that they're committed to building a Scotland fit for the 21st century," he said.
Scotland will become the 17th country and legislature around the world to introduce same-sex marriage. The first in England and Wales are due to take place this March.
Scotland's first marriages are expected this autumn, after ministers promised to rush through the legal powers.
The two main churches, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic church, have opposed the reform, alongside other faiths and churches including Muslim leaders. More than 50 ministers and church officials wrote to the Scottish government expressing their "deep concern" before the vote. The multi-faith Scotland for Marriage group said more than 54,000 people had signed a new petition opposing the law by Monday evening.
Opponents of the measures fear that equalities legislation could be used to force public servants such as registrars or schoolteachers to support gay marriage. Christian MSPs pressed for clauses stating "for the avoidance of doubt" that marriage is "between one man and one woman".
They believe churches could be refused funding or council buildings if they are known to oppose same-sex marriage. John Mason, an SNP MSP and Baptist, tabled several amendments to bolster the statutory rights of opponents of same-sex ceremonies, including one stating that no one could be "compelled by any means" to solemnise a gay marriage.
"If the parliament accepts none of these amendments this afternoon, we are sending out a signal that we've not been listening," Mason argued.
Richard Lyle, another SNP MSP, said prospective foster carers could be turned down if they opposed same-sex marriage. "What is more likely, yet not less tragic, is that applicants with so-called traditional views on marriage will be put off applying in the first place, fearing they will be branded homophobic," he said.
That argument was resisted by Jim Eadie, also an SNP MSP. "Speaking as someone who is both gay and adopted, I believe this amendment is both discriminatory and unnecessary because it singles out beliefs about same-sex marriage of being worthy of protection. Why should other beliefs not be similarly protected, for example a belief that divorce is wrong."
Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Tory deputy leader, said there was a "celebratory attitude" during the Holyrood debate, and wholeheartedly supported the new legislation.
"There has been a huge change in my lifetime, from the brutal atmosphere that existed in respect of gay people when I was a teenager and a young man," he said. “But I regard today as a fantastic, celebratory change in the mood, style, signature and stamp of my country, Scotland."

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