Scotland Legalizes Gay Marriage

First ceremonies could take place later this year

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Russell Cheyne / Reuters

Larry Lamont and Jerry Slater take part in a symbolic same-sex marriage outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Feb. 4, 2014.

The Scottish parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday permitting same-sex weddings to take place in the country, despite opposition from Scotland’s two largest churches.

The parliament voted 105 to 18 in favor of the bill, which will allow gay and lesbian weddings to take place in Scotland as early as the fall. The law will not compel religious institutions to hold ceremonies on their premises, but they can “opt in” to perform gay weddings. The bill is similar to one passed by the U.K. Parliament allowing same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

The Scottish Catholic Church and Church of Scotland have opposed the measure, with the Church of Scotland saying that because their congregations have a “wide spread of opinion” on gay marriage, they had no plans to hold same-sex ceremonies.

The bill includes a measure to recognize same-sex marriages registered overseas.