By a Newsnet reporter

A BBC Scotland reporter has claimed that legislating for same sex marriage is “risky” for the SNP and that the issue could lead to Scots voting No in the independence referendum.

Speaking on Reporting Scotland, reporter Raymond Buchanan claimed that plans by Scottish Ministers to introduce legislation in 2015, months after the referendum, might lead to problems for the Yes campaign if the issue took centre stage in the referendum run-up.

Mr Buchanan’s comments follow confirmation by the Scottish government of their intention to introduce legislation that will allow same sex couples to legally marry.  The legislation will allow for religious organisations to opt in or out, with no compulsory element.

The reporter, who had been asked by studio anchor Jackie Bird how risky the plan was for Alex Salmond’s party, claimed that "it could be very risky" given the opposition from religious groups who he described as "very powerful organisations".

Mr Buchanan insisted that the SNP had “some cover” from opinion polls but that Ministers would "struggle".

"If you think about the timetable for this, perhaps introducing same sex marriage in early 2015.  Well just a few months beforehand the SNP government hope to have won an independence referendum.

"If this continues to be a big row it could distract attention and perhaps even voters from that and that really could be risky for the SNP." said the BBC Scotland reporter.

The comments by Mr Buchanan follow an item on the programme the day before when another colleague highlighted what he claimed was strong Catholic support for the SNP, implying that the new legislation could place future support under threat.

The claims by both BBC Scotland reporters come despite same sex marriage being supported by all parties in the Scottish Parliament, including anti-independence parties.

In February this year, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont joined her Conservative counterpart Ruth Davidson along with Lib Dem Willie Rennie and Green MSP Patrick Harvie to sign the Equality Network document in support of same sex marriage.

Only last week one Scottish Labour MSP, Drew Smith, appeared on Reporting Scotland criticising the SNP’s then decision to delay the announcement.  Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is another who supports same sex marriage.


[Newsnet Scotland comment - Given support for same sex marriage spans the constitutional and political spectrum, both at UK and Scottish level, it is unclear who will benefit should voters turn against the plans.

The claims by a high profile BBC Scotland reporter that the SNP, a euphemism in this instance for the independence campaign, might somehow suffer because of same sex legislation does not bear up to scrutiny, something sadly that was not evident in the programme.

With all parties in Scotland and both sides of the constitutional argument supporting the legislation then there is only one way that opponents of the legislation can protest, and that is by abstaining.  In that case it would be impossible to determine which party or campaign might benefit.

BBC Scotland’s reporting of same sex marriage of late has tended to paint the issue as one of the SNP against the churches, especially the Catholic Church.  At best, an unfortunate side effect of sloppy journalism, at worst an attempt to cause mischief for the SNP.]

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