The Church of Scotland could become the first in the UK to allow same-sex marriages to be conducted in churches.

The Church confirmed that it is set to debate on a report "on human sexuality" drawn up by the theological forum of the Church of Scotland, that could allow nominated ministers and deacons to conduct gay or lesbian marriage ceremonies.

The report, which will be put forward at the Kirk's General Assembly in Edinburgh in May, will allow ministers against same sex marriages to use a "contentious refusal" clause.

In addition, the report also recommends that the Church of Scotland make a formal apology for its "history of discrimination."

It calls for the church to "take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better."

It adds: "We recognise that as a church we have often failed to recognise and protect the identity and Christian vocation of gay people and believe that the church as a whole should acknowledge its faults."

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The Church of Scotland to decide on whether to allow same-sex marriages to be conducted in its churches. iStock

The report, in calling for a change in the Church's policy towards gay marriages says: "The forum does not believe there are sufficient theological grounds to deny nominated individual ministers and deacons the authority to preside at same-sex marriages."

The church released the report after the document "found its way into the public domain" ahead of schedule.

The Times quotes a spokeswoman for the Scottish Episcopal Church as saying: "At our General Synod meeting in June we will make the historic decision on whether or not to change our canon on marriage. If we do, we would be the first UK church to marry same-sex couples in church."

The Kirk's principal clerk, the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers said that if the assembly did move to allow ministers to perform same-sex marriages, a further report by the Legal Questions Committee will be undertaken on the legal implications of conducting same-sex marriages. The report will be heard in 2018, Rev Chalmers said.

In releasing the report, the Convener of the Theological Forum, the Very Rev Professor Iain Torrance said: "The Report addresses what has been a long running argument in all the churches. In the years past, there has been an idea that in time one side in this argument would emerge as the sole victor.

"We don't think like that now. That is why we are arguing for what, last year, the Forum called 'constrained difference.' It is closely similar to what the Archbishop of Canterbury calls 'mutual flourishing.'"

He described the report as "centrist" and one "aimed at encouraging mutual flourishing."

Rev Scott Rennie, the first openly gay minister in Scotland, in welcoming the news, said he would be surprised if the church did not adopt the recommendations made in the report.

He said over the past 10 years or more, the church had "step by step" been moving towards being more inclusive, The Times reports.

"This report recognises the place of the Christian vocation of thousands of LGBT people within the Kirk's membership and adherence, so I would be quite hopeful that we would move forward."

On the apology recommendation, he said: "What I think is more important than apologising is having the commitment to stop discriminating and to move forward for the future."

In 2016, the Church of Scotland voted to allow ministers in a gay marriage to serve in the church.