Tory MPs demand free vote on gay marraige despite PM supporting the idea

Written on:May 24, 2023
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Amidst fierce opposition of gay marriage legalisation consultation by Tory MPs, David Cameron remains firm on his decision to support same-sex marriage and criticises Owen Paterson for opposing it.

PM’s spokesman said the Government was “committed to introducing same-sex civil marriage” by the end of the current Parliament, in 2015. However, number of Conservative MPs, including Paterson opposed the idea of allowing gay weddings in England and Wales.

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, who said he will not support the proposal, became the first Cabinet minister to oppose gay marriage in public. In a letter to a constituent published on the Politicshome website, Paterson said, “Having considered this matter carefully, I am afraid that I have come to the decision not to support gay marriage.”

“The prime minister has made clear that he supports equal civil marriage and the government is rightly consulting widely on this issue before making any changes to the current position. I am worried that this will be a disappointing response”, Paterson added.

Tory MPs supported Paterson, saying ministers should be allowed a free vote when the legislation is brought forward.A free vote will allow MPs to vote as they wish and not as directed by party whips.Under the current legislation, same-sex couples are allowed to enter into a civil partnership, but not civil marriage.

Stewart Jackson, Paterson’s former parliamentary private secretary, said, “No 10 would be foolish in the extreme to disregard this as a conscience issue. Whipping the vote would be a catastrophic error of judgement and would generate serious divisions.”

Peter Bone, the Tory MP for Wellingborough, warned that any attempt to whip MPs will lead to “uproar in the party and ministerial resignations.”

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