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Scotland rejects adultery petition

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A petition urging Scottish ministers to change the definition of adultery following the introduction of same-sex ‘marriage’ has been rejected by MSPs, because there is insufficient time to consider it in this parliamentary term.

Campaigner Akri Jones called for the change at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, claiming that the definition of adultery should be revised to accommodate the introduction of same-sex ‘marriages’. She called for the legal definition of adultery to be amended so that it is “not restrictive to gender status”, claiming that the current law is in breach of human rights and equality legislation.

As the law stands, committing adultery can be cited as proof that a marriage has irretrievably broken down. However, the legal definition of adultery refers specifically to sexual expression between a man and a woman outside of marriage.

Ms Jones said she did not want to see the law on adultery abolished because “we are living in a world that needs to safeguard our morals more than ever”, adding that faithfulness in marriage was one of the most important aspects of this.

“Absolute abandonment”

However, critics have warned that the difficulties in formulating a definition for “sexual intercourse” between same-sex couples could lead to the concept of adultery being abandoned altogether.

James Fraser CBE, chairman of the Free Church of Scotland’s Board of Trustees, said: “One of the potential options open to MSPs, should this petition go any further, would be to scrap the definition of adultery altogether. We urge them not to pursue this path.

“Christians, and even many non-religious people, believe that faithfulness in marriage matters and that adultery is wrong. If the Scottish Parliament were to abolish adultery, it would send a very clear signal of the absolute abandonment of the institution of marriage in our culture today.”

Rev Paul Gibson, Free Church of Scotland minister in Perth, added: “The petitioner claims that the legalising of same-sex marriage has led to an inequality, whereby a man and a woman can use adultery as grounds for divorce, whereas same-sex couples can’t.


“Rather than being an inequality, it merely demonstrates some of the confusion created when politicians tinker around with God’s gift of marriage – which is the building block of any healthy society… We would rather our politicians worked on ways to combat family breakdown, which can have a devastating impact on the future prospects of children, as well as a destabilizing effect on society at large.”


The former justice secretary, MSP Kenny MacAskill rejected the petition on Tuesday (3rd March) on the basis that the Scottish Government had no time to action a claim in the current parliament. He then invited Ms Jones to re-submit the petition in a year’s time, when a new parliament would have sufficient time to address the issue.

“Passed its time”

He fuelled the concerns of critics further by claiming that adultery had “passed its time” and should be abolished as a concept rather than extended to other relationships. 

“Unique institution”

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Legislators did not extend the concept of adultery to same-sex couples because of the inherent difficulties in defining sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex. These difficulties demonstrate that male-female marriage is a unique institution. It shows how misleading it is to claim – as some people have – that introducing same-sex ‘marriage’ will strengthen the institution of marriage.

“The Scottish Government was warned time and again that redefining marriage will lead to an undermining of marriage. Faithfulness to one another is an intrinsic part of marriage. The laws on adultery uphold this ideal.

“Fidelity is not just good for spouses but is in the best interests of children. The evidence shows that children do best with a mother and a father who remain committed to one another.” 

Related News:
Adultery could be abolished following same-sex ‘marriage’ legislation

Related Coverage:
Call for adultery to cover same-sex marriages (The Scotsman)
MSPs reject adultery change petition (Herald Scotland)