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.

"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.