AN SNP veteran in the West Highlands has quit the party over the Government's decision to legalise same-sex marriage.

Robert Stewart, who at 66 has been an SNP member for 22 years, was secretary of the party's Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency association.

He said: "SNP members have never been consulted as members. There is no party policy on the matter. National conference have not discussed the issue.

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"It is not an SNP manifesto commitment and I simply cannot understand how the SNP have a democratic mandate either from the party or from the nation to make such a fundamental change."

Last week, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Government would proceed with legislation because it was "the right thing to do," in spite of a consultation which, including organised postcard campaigns and petitions, produced a result of two-to-one against the reform.

However, individual recipients who filled in the full consultation were two-to-one in favour of the reform and that was the decision backed by Scottish Ministers, who believed the decision sent out an important signal about a modern and tolerant Scotland.

But the decision has now prompted the resignation from Mr Stewart from Glen Urquhart.

He said: "I am not a church person, am not married to the person I live with and been divorced twice. Some people might call me a hypocrite. But this is all about democracy and proper consultation, and that has not happened.

"I believe the move is a needless distraction before the referendum on independence and will cost the SNP votes from evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics and Muslims."

Mr Stewart said a "curt" reply was sent to him by party chief executive Peter Murrell, Ms Sturgeon's husband, after he tendered his resignation.

An SNP spokesman said: "We fully recognise that Mr Stewart has strong views on this issue and we respect his decision. The SNP have long-promoted tolerance and equality, and the proposed legislation does fit with those principles.