The coalition government is currently holding a consultation on gay marriage in England and Wales; the SNP administration has already held its own consultation on the issue ahead of the Westminster government’s. David Cameron has personally backed allowing same-sex civil marriages and has promised their introduction by the next general election. His coalition partner Nick Clegg is also a supporter of gay marriage and has promised his Liberal Democrat party that same-sex couples will be able to marry in the UK “by 2015”.
However while marriage equality may have the support of the Tory leader it does not have the full support of the Conservative party. There are some Tory MPs who are opposed to the idea of gay marriage even civil marriages. Amongst the MPs to allow gay marriage are senior members of the government such as Owen Paterson, Phillip Hammond and Tim Loughton. However, former party leader Iain Duncan Smith has given his backing to marriage equality despite his previous opposition on gay rights issues.
The BBC is now reporting that Tory MPs will be allowed a free vote on the issue of gay marriage. The free vote means MPs will be able to vote against the government and any gay marriage bills without facing the consequences of disciplinary action. Its not known how many Tory MPs will vote against the introduction of same-sex marriages when legislation is put before parliament.
[Written by Martha Kirkpatrick, LGBT editor]