The presbyteries of the Church of Scotland have given their overwhelming approval to proposals for the ordination of gay ministers.

A total of 1,391 presbytery members voted in favour and 1,153 against which resulted in a split of 54.6% to 45.4%. This revealed a majority of Church of Scotland presbyteries have back the appointment of gay ministers. 32 of 45 of the governing bodies across Scotland said ministers and deacons who are in a civil partnership should be allowed to apply to vacant spots.

This is not the final decision, with that taking place in May at the Edinburgh General Assembly.

Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling presbyteries backed the proposals. Falkirk, Kirkcaldy and Inverness voted against. In West Lothian, 28 voted in favour of gay ministers and 29 against, while all 19 individual members of the Lewis Presbytery voted against the proposal.

It has been an issue for the Church of Scotland since four years ago when General Assembly members attempted to block the appointment of gay Reverend Scott Rennie, who was in a same-sex relationship, to a new parish. The General Assembly voted in support of Mr Rennie but introduced an interim ban on ordaining other gay ministers until a special commission had studied the matter.

Reverend John Mann of Affirmation Scotland said: “This is good news, it is what we have been hoping for and working towards. “I think it is testimony to the broad nature of the Church of Scotland that folks are willing to go along with this.

A final decision on the issue will be taken at General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh in May.