Actor Stephen Fry has called on the government to allow faith groups to provide marriage ceremonies to same-sex couples, in a video for the Out4Marriage campaign.
The gay author and TV star said it was “unfair” of the Church of England to oppose same-sex weddings to appease “the more extreme end” of their membership.
In the video, Fry said: “But what is really important is there are other faiths like Quakers and Congregationalists and Unitarians and the Liberal Reform part of the Jewish faith… that they feel their communion won’t be complete unless it includes gay marriage because they believe in social justice and equality too.”
Fry ended his message by telling those undecided on the case for equal marriage that:
“At least 260 species of animal have been noted exhibiting homosexual behaviour but only 1 species of animal ever, so far as we know… has exhibited homophobic behaviour… And that’s the human being. So ask yourself which is really natural.”
Commenting on the video, Joseph Musgrave, for the Out4Marriage campaign, said: “Stephen Fry has brought his own inimitable style to a point we have long sought to clarify. No religious group should be in any way forced to conduct or solemnise same-sex marriages.
Mr Musgrave added: “But there are religious traditions that want to do exactly that. Thankfully, the Labour Party, as we saw in Ed Miliband’s recent Out4Marriage video, and large elements within both governing parties are now alert to this and think we can find a way forward that addresses exactly that. We are hugely encouraged by that.”
Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also said that churches should not be “banned” from the measure in August and cited how it was his party’s policy – although Mr Clegg stressed that he was not speaking on behalf of the government.
Senior 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.