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In early February the Government struck a historic victory for gay rights by passing a bill that would legalise gay marriage in the UK. But barely a fortnight later, the Conservatives were back to their ‘nasty party’ homophobic reputation, with a senior Tory MP announcing that gay people shouldn’t raise children.
Explaining his views on gay marriage - which he voted against, Welsh secretary David Jones said that marriage was “an institution that has developed over many centuries, essentially for the provision of a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children, which is clearly something that two same-sex partners can’t do.”
The Conservatives have come a long way with gay rights, and for all his flaws, David Cameron is pretty supportive of LGBT equality. But there are still plenty of MPs like David Jones, who are explicitly homophobic. The debate around the equal marriage bill was an interesting experience, akin to lifting a heavy rock to see what slithering opinions would scuttle out. There was the obvious harumphing about how marriage was a centuries-old tradition that shouldn’t be meddled with (conveniently forgetting the invention of divorce) or how it would be a slippery slope that led to incest (just as allowing gay people into the armed forces inevitably led to cats joining the navy). But my personal favourite was from Conservative MP
Edward Leigh: “We have to get away from the idea that every single thing in life can be forced through the merciless prism of equality,” he said, probably trembling. A merciless prism indeed, taking perfectly reasonable traditions and refracting them into awful, awful equality. David Cameron clearly has a lot of work still to do in his own party. Or maybe he’s secretly delighted that such right wing buffoons make him look so liberal.