Redbridge LGBT leader hails ‘brilliant’ gay marriage vote as Recorder readers voice support in poll

Readers voted in favour of same-sex marriage in this poll on the Ilford Recorder website.

Readers voted in favour of same-sex marriage in this poll on the Ilford Recorder website. - Credit: Archant

A Redbridge LGBT leader has hailed Tuesday’s vote in favour of gay marriage as a “brilliant” but overdue step towards equality.

Rick Pataky, of Redbridge Rainbow, said: “I think in the future we will look back at this debate like we do at black, minority and ethnic rights.

“Why did it take us so long? It’s stupid.

“Homosexuality has been around since the dawn of time and we’re not going anywhere.”

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was approved by the House of Commons by 400 MPs to 175.

It will now undergo further scrutiny in Parliament and further votes before it can become law.

The bill would allow same-sex couples to get married in England and Wales.

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Religious marriages would only be permitted if the institution had formally consented.

Couples who already have civil partnerships would also be able to convert their relationship into a marriage.

Three out of four Redbridge MPs voted in favour of gay marriage on Tuesday.

Ilford North MP Lee Scott abstained from the vote because of “concerns about the implications for religious groups”.

He added: “No religion should have to do anything they do not wish to and I do not see the full protections in the bill.”

The Conservative MP said 250 people had contacted him asking him to vote against the bill.

Mr Scott and Ilford South MP Mike Gapes said they received abusive phone calls and emails from people on both sides of the debate, with some threatening never to vote for them again.

Mr Gapes said he was strongly lobbied by some churches and religious groups.

He added: “It was a free vote and I had to use my conscience.

“I think a lot of the fears are exaggerated and the government have given a lot of assurances for religious institutions.

“When you’re an MP you can’t please everyone. You have to take a position and I think gay marriage is the right thing to do.”

In a poll on the Ilford Recorder website, 63 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of same-sex marriage and 37 against.