An angry exchange has taken place at a meeting of the Cotswolds District Council in Gloucestershire after discussion of the issue of marriage for gay couples was quashed by leaders.

Tory leader Lynden Stowe refused to discuss a motion on marriage equality at a public meeting, the Gloucestershire Echo reports, saying it was not within the council’s remit.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Joe Harris had wanted the council to back a motion to ‘support the removal of the ban on same-sex couples being able to have a marriage through a civil ceremony’.

At the public meeting, Cllr Stowe told him: “We will be offering no view on the subject.”

After calls of “disgusting” and “disgraceful” from the public gallery, the Conservative council leader said it was their role to “deliver services to the people of the Cotswolds” not to determine “the moral codes of this nation”.

Motion author Cllr Harris in response told the Conservative group they had “crushed [his] faith in humanity”, calling the question of marriage rights an “issue of basic human birthrights, morality and fairness”.

Liberal Democrat leader Paul Hodgkinson said: “Who are you, Councillor Stowe, to say we will not be in engaging in this?

“I will celebrate this September, with my partner, 25 years together. We became civil partners in 2006.

“It’s about me and everyone like me and millions in this country having the same rights as everyone else. This is a moment for this council to live and breathe its stated equality policy.”