Later today (Tuesday the 5th of February) the House of Commons will vote on whether England & Wales should legalise gay marriage. The vote is threatening to tear the Conservative party apart. Currently it is anticipated that as many as 200 Tory back-benchers will rebel against the Government and either vote against the Bill or abstain. This means that to stand any chance of passing, the Prime Minister David Cameron will need support from the Labour Party and its coalition partner the Liberal Democrats.
Although it would seem that there is widespread support for Gay Marriage amongst the general population, there are some powerful groups opposing it including the Church of England, the Catholic Church and many Conservative Party activists at the grass roots level. Some Tories have said that the issue could lead to the Conservative Party losing the next General Election, which will be in 2015.
Homosexual acts were illegal in England & Wales until 1967, and “civil partnerships” became legal in 2005. It is certain that attitudes have changed, but many Tories fear that attitudes have not changed sufficiently amongst the Conservative Party rank and file for this legislation to not damage the party’s traditional image. It will be a very interesting day in Parliament.
The vote passed by 400 votes to 175 and so passes its first hurdle to becoming law. Many Tory MPs voted against the Bill, including 6 members of the Government and two Cabinet members.