A newly-wed couple who posed in formal wedding attire while delivering the Coalition for Marriage’s petition to Downing Street have received bullying messages following a PinkNews.co.uk story, the Telegraph reported this weekend.

The Coalition for Marriage stunt, in which the 23-year-olds were dressed in wedding clothes and given a bouquet and buttonhole to hold while they delivered a petition aimed at barring gay people from the institution, received little mainstream media attention two weeks ago.

However, the religious couple have spoken of messages telling them they should “rot in hell” and have told the Telegraph they are now being bullied after letting their marriage be used as collateral for a campaign seeking to deny others the same right.

The report cites the comments section of the PinkNews.co.uk story as one source of a link, deleted before the Telegraph article was published, to Mr Curnow’s publicly accessible Facebook profile, the settings for which he has now changed.

The couple’s part in the publicity stunt drew anger both from PinkNew.co.uk readers and the global community on Twitter, prompting more than a hundred messages, they said. These included desires for the couple to become infertile or die of cancer.

Northumbria police confirmed there was in fact no evidence of direct threats to the couple and therefore no criminal messages had been sent.

Mr Curnow told the Telegraph: “All we did was hand in a petition at Downing Street. Surely there’s room for people to disagree without resorting this kind of hatred and abuse.”

“By all means let’s have a debate – especially as the public haven’t had the chance to vote on this issue.

“But the bullies are trying to shut down the debate. We’re shaken and upset, but we won’t let them get us down.”

PinkNews.co.uk asked the Coalition for Marriage whether it had warned the couple of the potential backlash to its campaign. A spokesman said they were aware there would be “pointed” discussion of the images, but said sending personal messages to the couple went “beyond heated debate”.

A Labour councillor in Manchester, Kevin Peel, also posted a link to Mr Curnow’s public Facebook page on Twitter.

He wrote: “Lovely photo of newly wed Rhys Curnow on his Fb. Shame he doesn’t want me to ever have same” followed by a link to his profile.

Cllr Peel, the council’s lead member of gay men’s issues, told the Telegraph he not endorse “horrible” messages, and said: “If you are the public face of a campaign to deny the right of marriage to other people you should be prepared to hear the opposite view from people who don’t agree with you.

“Being in the press, standing outside Downing Street in wedding garb and handing in a petition saying people like me should not be allowed to marry – I don’t see why it is not OK for people, sensible people, to say ‘why do you have that view?’.”

Disparaging comments were made on the story both about the couple and about the gay community, who were labelled “sick”, “deviant” and “disgusting” in comments similarly removed from PinkNews.co.uk.