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'Protection' for religious groups defeated in same sex marriage debate

Attempts to add "protection" for religious groups opposed to same-sex marriage have been defeated at the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs rejected concerns as they prepare to determine the controversial Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in a final vote later.

SNP backbencher John Mason had hoped to alter the legislation to ensure no one is "compelled by any means" to solemnise gay marriage.

His was the first of a series of backbench amendments seeking to bolster protection in the Bill for freedom of expression.

Alex Neil, the Scottish Health Secretary, said the legislation already protects celebrants who do not want to take part in ceremonies.

Mr Mason's argument was defeated in a 96-21 vote as MSPs picked their way through the final stage of the Bill before it can become law.

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