The Queen's Speech: Don't abandoned gay marriage plans, urge campaigners

 

Campaigners for gay marriage expressed disappointment today that it was not included in the Queen's Speech.

The coalition has committed to legislate for gay marriage by 2015, but the issue has proven divisive for the Conservatives and right-wingers have stepped up their criticism of the proposal in the wake of last week's poor election results.

Gay rights campaign group Stonewall today urged the Government not to abandon the measure, which was not among the 19 Bills announced in the Queen's Speech for the coming year.

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: "We're disappointed that this modest measure has not been included in the Queen's Speech.

"We trust that extension of the legal form of marriage to gay people isn't going to turn into a 'tuition fees' issue, announced with much hoopla in the run-up to an important election and then abandoned.

"Stonewall will fight on to push both coalition parties to deliver on their promise to implement this measure by 2015."

Chancellor George Osborne said at the weekend that, while he was "personally in favour" of gay marriage, there had never been plans to bring forward a gay marriage Bill today.

However, it has been a central target of criticism from backbench Tories since last Thursday's elections, in which the party lost hundreds of council seats.

Former ministerial aide Stewart Jackson said gay marriage was a "barmy" policy and that Mr Cameron needed to focus on "bread and butter" issues.

Defence minister Gerald Howarth has cited concerns there is "no mandate" for the measure and former leadership challenger David Davis warned that issues like gay marriage had been "a distraction".

PA

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