In a widely anticipated move, several Christian organisations that are opposed to gay rights in the UK have criticised Labour leader Ed Miliband’s recent public intervention on equal marriage.

In an Out4Marriage video released yesterday, Mr Miliband urged the coalition to go further in its current commitment to introduce the measure before the end of current parliament in 2015.

Mr Miliband said faith groups that want to provide same-sex marriage ceremonies “should be able to do so”.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “Mr Miliband’s comments contain well-worn phrases which hide the reality of the effects that redefining marriage will have.

“When it comes to allowing churches to perform same-sex ‘marriages’, permission will become coercion. Those churches which continue to practice biblical teaching on marriage will feel immense pressure to conform to the state’s new definition.

She added: “It is time for politicians to stop and think clearly about the effects that a redefinition of marriage will have. The evidence shows that marriage between one man and one woman is good for individuals, good for children and good for society”.

In order to counter large-scale hostility from Catholic and Anglican leaders, ministers have repeatedly stressed the current proposals are aimed at the “civil” definition of marriage – whilst not explicitly ruling out legalising religious same-sex weddings.

The government will issue its official response to this year’s equal marriage public consultation before Christmas.

According to the Daily Mail, Colin Hart, of the Coalition for Marriage, said: “Poll after poll shows a majority of the public oppose these changes.

“Voters have not had the opportunity to have their say and even within the gay community it is not a priority”.

In June of this year, a YouGov poll found 71 percent of people approved of the government’s plans to allow gay couples to marry, and the same number said faith groups should be able to perform gay weddings ceremonies if they so wish.