Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:51 pm on 5th February 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Margot James Margot James Conservative, Stourbridge 2:51 pm, 5th February 2013

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. In fact, there was a case from Austria in 2010, Schalk and Kopf, in which the European Court of Human Rights ruled that there was no obligation on any country, on any secular Government, to guarantee the rights of gay people to marry each other.

It has been argued that equality is not all that matters—that we are different and we should celebrate differences. I agree: we should celebrate cultural and other differences. However, having been different for most of my life, Mr Deputy Speaker, I can assure you that being treated equally is very welcome indeed. We still have some way to go, not just for gay people but in other areas too. My party should never flinch from the requirement to continue this progression; otherwise we may end up like the Republican party, which lost an election last year that it could have won were it not for its socially conservative agenda.

One last point that has not been raised is that gay people have always been allowed to marry—as long as they choose someone of the opposite sex. This has been the case in politics and in Hollywood for reasons that are well known. Many gay people today appreciate civil partnerships, but want more—they want the status of marriage. I am thinking particularly of younger gay people, who did not have to grow up in the environment that some of us had to grow up in. I support their right to declare their love in a state of marriage. I can assure hon. Members that this will not undermine tradition.