I do not have a monopoly on victimhood. The homosexual community has been subject to abuse which, sadly, has characterised debates about sexuality. It is intolerable, however, that as soon as Members of Parliament put their heads above the parapet and speak to the media, they are called “a homophobe”, “a Nazi”—I have been called that—“a bigot”, and many other expletives that I would not dare to read out. I have been told to be ashamed of myself, and to die: I have received specific death threats relating to my travel plans. I have been told that I am a disgrace, and that I have no right to express my opinion on this subject. My children have been told that their dad is a bigot and a homophobe.
That is only the tip of the iceberg of rude and offensive comments that many Members have received via Twitter. I have broad shoulders, and I can continue to stand up and support marriage in Parliament. Today’s debate has not been characterised by hatred and vitriol—we have shown ourselves in a good light—but I fear for the liberty of the conscience of my constituents who may not have such broad shoulders: public sector workers, teachers and others in the workplace who see no protection in the Bill.
I am not angry, but I am very sad that my Government have so hastily introduced legislation to redefine marriage. I am resolved to join other Members in proudly standing up for marriage—standing up for the equal value of people, whatever their sexuality, but also standing up for a commitment to the value of marriage as a distinctive institution for a man and a woman.