The Church of Scotland has voted to allow parish ministers and deacons to marry same-sex couples if they wish to do so.

The motion passed by 274 commissioners in favour to 136 against at the 2022 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on 23 May.

Church law will now be changed to enable parish ministers, known as Ministers of Word and Sacrament, and deacons to apply to be able to conduct same-sex ceremonies.

No one will be required to participate in a same-sex marriage unless they explicitly want to, a report to the General Assembly stated.

Reverend Craig Dobney told the Evening Standard: “I’ve seen the heartbreak of those in same-sex relationships in our congregations who are unable to marry in their home church, devout Christians though they are. To be married, in front of their church families, would mean everything to them but they were not able to do so.

“I worry that our churches have become irrelevant to our the communities.

“We can stay in our ivory towers, in our marble mansions, in our granite buildings and sit there thinking quire happily that we are following scripture by stopping people from coming to our churches, by making people unwelcome.”

Although same-sex marriage has been legal since the end of 2014 in Scotland, weddings by the Church of Scotland have not been permitted until now.

“Delighted to see that the general assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted for ministers to be able to conduct same sex weddings,” said Scottish politician Ruth Davidson. “Thanks to those who have shown grace and care as the church edged closer and closer to this point.”

Under the terms of the legislation, parish ministers who have their application to be a celebrant approved will be allowed to use a church building in their charge for the solemnisation of a gay marriage, as well as being able to give consent to other celebrants to use the building for this.