FORMER SNP leader Gordon Wilson claimed Nationalist ministers were "lemmings" for pushing ahead with plans to legalise same-sex marriage.

The outspoken former MP told a fringe meeting at the SNP conference that efforts to win the independence referendum would be undermined by the move.

Addressing an audience of 200 people at an event organised by the Scotland for Marriage pressure group, he said: "Who will get the blame?

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"The party that is promoting the measure, that has plucked it from nowhere.

"I'm reminded of the analogy of the lemmings rushing over the cliff. Someone should stop this nonsense."

Mr Wilson, who led the SNP from 1979 to 1990, said moves to allow same-sex marriage infringed the civil liberties of those who were opposed.

He claimed teachers, hospital chaplains and foster parents could lose their jobs by refusing to promote the "equalities agenda".

He also suggested allowing same-sex marriage would reduce population levels.

"The nation needs children," he said. "Only a man and a woman can naturally have children and what I would call family marriage is the best way of bringing up children. It's a law of nature. Same-sex marriage is a biological cul-de-sac."