The Welsh Secretary David Jones last night angrily denied suggestions that he was homophobic after giving an interview in which he appeared to suggest that same sex couples could not provide a "warm and safe environment" for bringing up children.
Mr Jones, one of two cabinet ministers who voted against the Government gay marriage bill after last week’s House of Commons debate, was attempting to defend his position in an interview on ITV Wales.
He said he voted against the proposal because both he and his constituents were unhappy with the change.
He then added: “I regard marriage as 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.
“(That) is not to say that I’m in any sense opposed to stable and committed same-sex partnerships.”
His remarks were seized upon by gay rights campaigners who described his comment as “offensive and inaccurate”.
“There are many different types of family in Wales today, including many same-sex couples raising children,” said Andrew White, director of Stonewall Cymru.
“It’s deeply undermining to families and children when they hear this sort of ill-informed comment.”
Labour’s shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith added: “These comments reveal that the nasty party is alive and well under David Cameron. That such views exist in the heart of the Tory Cabinet provides yet more evidence of how out of touch the Tories are with modern Britain.”
But Mr Jones told The Independent that he did believe that gay couples could bring up children in a warm and safe environment and that his remarks had been taken out of context. He added that he supported both civil partnerships and gay adoption.
In a statement he added: “I was asked on the Face to Face programme why I voted against the same-sex marriage proposals. I replied that I had done so on the basis that I took the view that marriage is an institution that has developed over the centuries so as to provide a safe and warm environment for the upbringing of children.
“I made the point of stressing that I was fully supportive of committed same-sex relationships. I also strongly approve of civil partnerships.
“I did not say in the interview that same-sex partners should not adopt children and that is not my view.
“I simply sought to point out that, since same-sex partners could not biologically procreate children, the institution of marriage was one that, in my opinion, should be reserved to opposite sex partners.”