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Labour to hold a free vote on same-sex marriage

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  1. Surely, if this is true, it would constitute a u-turn by the Labour leadership?

    As far as I am aware, a large amount of Labour MP’s are in favour anyway so should not be a problem.

  2. Very surprising and disappointing. How do they claim to defend religious freedom if they do not allow the less bigoted churches to choose?

  3. If MPs really believe in ‘religious freedom’ the only way to ensure that is to vote FOR equal marriage.

  4. An interesting signal that being homophobic is consistent with being a member of the Labour party….

  5. That There Other David 11 Dec 2012, 11:35am

    They’re either totally convinced it will pass or abandoning the whole idea thanks to religious lobbying. If it’s the latter it will only show the current Labour leadership as spineless.

    We shall see.

  6. I hope you British will remember this stance. LGBT rights are not considered human rights. After equal marriage there will be numerous more battles concerning gay rights in years to come. Even pro equal marriage voters now, will then decide that that those matters are “not urgent” or “we’ve done already so much” or “It’s a matter against personal believe”.

    If they thought it was a human right, they would have taken this to the highest European court. It is not happening. They don’t care that British “gay marriages” are not recognised in large parts of Europe. Do you think they would accept that “straight or black or whatever” British marriages were not recognised?

    1. de Villiers 11 Dec 2012, 4:41pm

      Everything you have said is in the abstract so it is difficult to know that to which you are referring. Although gay rights are not seen universally as human rights, what is seen to amount to this changes over time. Soon, in liberal, western countries, gay rights will be seen as human rights.

      Meanwhile, in China, freedom of speech or association is not yet considered to be a human right.

  7. I’m not concerned by this. I’m certain that the bill will pass, and this way we’ll have a list of homophobic labour party members.

    1. Which will be larger than many think.

      Sadly, I think this has been done in order to head off an embarrassing rebellion by a group of homophobic Labour MPs. The leadership can now say that it was a conscience vote and therefore the party is not responsible for how some of its members chose to vote. To them, that is the lesser of the two evils.

      But we will see who those Labour MPs are, and we will remember them.

      Chrissie

    2. I hope PN will print a list of all MP’s who vote against or abstain.

  8. A complete u-turn

    I am so tired of straight political parties playing games with my rights

    1. I totally agree, they come into my home and personal life and decide what i can and cannot do

      1. de Villiers 11 Dec 2012, 4:42pm

        Yes – but isn’t that normal for law? That is not unique to us.

  9. Very disappointing. This is clearly a U-turn, no matter how Labour dances around it. Their justification (the three-line whip only applied to civil ceremonies) is just laughable given the fact that allowing churches that WANT to perform same-sex marriages means that you are actually DEFENDING religious freedom, so that shouldn’t change their (Labour) approach one bit.

  10. Very disappointed by this move by Labour. I think this means that only the Lib Dems are whipping their MPs to vote for marriage equality.

    Interestingly, Lib Dem MSPs in the Scottish Parliament have a free vote, although all 5 of them have said they’ll vote for it. In fact, all the parties represented in the Scottish Parliament have a free vote too – SNP, Labour, Conservatives and Greens, although as a majority of MSPs have already indicated they’ll vote for it, it shouldn’t stop it from becoming law in Scotland. Let’s hope this won’t have an affect on the outcome in Westminster.

    It digusts me that gay equality is being treated like this by all the main parties. Would they have a free vote on race equality and allow a debate about it? I don’t think so.

    1. Euan Davidson 11 Dec 2012, 12:17pm

      That’s not entirely true LibDem MSP’s are being whipped, it just doesn’t matter because they all support it anyway, I think its the same with the Greens.

      1. I specifically e-mailed all parties who are represented in the Scottish Parliament about 6 weeks ago. All but the SNP replied. All other parties did reply to me saying their MSPs were having a free vote – including the Lib Dems, and the woman who replied to me from the Lib Dems said she’d even double checked with their policy team before replying to me. So I’ll take her word for it, over yours – no offence!

  11. Truthfully, I’m torn.

    On the one hand, this is an equality and rights issue and shouldn’t be up to ‘conscience’ (which is being used as a cover for all sorts of prejudices).

    On the other hand, it will be incredibly useful to know exactly who in the current elected parliament (from the 2 main parties) is for or against equal rights.

  12. Rich- I’m not so sure as you that the Billl WILL pass now. I think its future is uncertain when you consider over 100 conserrvative Mp’s will vote against- and I suspect only a small minority- about 50 will be voting in favour. This means that if 25 or more Labour MP’s vote against-on these spurious grounds of allowing a very small number of gay marriages in a church- then the bill will not have an overall majority.

    1. According to the c4em website, about 290 MPs have already said they will vote in favour, with about 260 not specifying and 100 voting against (an overall majority is – what – 323 or so?). Bear in mind all the main parties will probably be privately encouraging their MPs to vote in favour, even if they aren’t whipped, and that some opponents might be persuaded to abstain. Realistically, the only way this is going to fail (in the Commons at least) is if Labour find some technicality as an excuse to vote against or abstain as they did with Lords reform, but I find it very hard to believe that they will allow themselves to be out-progressived by the Tories on LGBT rights.

    2. Paula Thiomas 11 Dec 2012, 12:48pm

      I don’t understand your figures. What number of Labour MPs are you assuming will vote for the legislation?

      In any case the bill only needs a majority not an overall majority (if by that you mean a majority of the whole house).
      According to http://www.c4em.org.uk/ 293 MPs are committed to voting for the bill (including 81 Conservatives), 99 against (81 Conservatives). There will be at least 14 abstentions (basically the speaker, his deputies, SNP and Sinn Fein). Whilst nothing is ever certain until it is over William Hill would offer very long odds against this passing.

  13. John Dobbin. Catholic. Signed EDM to allow religious groups to discriminate against LGBT people.

    Joe Benton. Catholic. Voted against Age of Consent, and signed EDM to allow religious groups to discriminate against LGBT people.

    Mary Glindon. Catholic. also signed above EDM.

    Er. Anyone spotting a vague pattern here?

    Looking at the voting records of all the Catholic MP’s in the house, we seem to find that they prefer voting for the Vatican’s wishes, rather than those of their own constituents.

    I think we need to start to publicise this a LOT more than we do. Who the hell do these people work for? In this case, it seems the Pope.

    Chrissie

  14. Robert in S. Kensington 11 Dec 2012, 12:35pm

    Austin Mitchell is a bigot. He says having a whipped vote might cause him to rebel. He’s going to rebel and vote against it anyway.

    This to me is a victory for the C4M hate group, allowing religious bigots to vote it down. I no longer feel comfortable this will have any chance of success. What it boils down to is that it’s become a referendum for parliamentarians, the very thing C4M demanded for the electorate.

    If this fails and it could well happen now, Labour and the Tories will lose many gay votes which means some of us won’t be voting for either in 2015. I will be among them.

  15. Pavlos Prince of Greece 11 Dec 2012, 12:36pm

    Very bad signal to France: some homophobic Socialists in ‘Asemblee Nationale’ wants this too.

  16. Paula and James- The figures you give of voting intentions were supplied BEFORE it became known that that SOME churches WILL be allowed to marry same-sex couples. The fact that the government has now changed the proposed legislation to include these opting-in churches changes everything. Thats how Labour have changed its approach to a whipped vote- the vote has been CHANGED!

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 11 Dec 2012, 1:32pm

      The implications then may be that in a free vote, some religious moderates who were on the fence because of a lack of protection for some religious denominations may now be inclined to vote with the majority? I hope that’s the case.

  17. I find these conscience votes by politicians on civil rights just as insulting and wrong-headed as popular referenda on civil rights. It makes it seem as if there are two equally moral sides to the issue, and that minority rights are a concession tolerated by majorities.

    It signals that a politician’s personal values or religion outweighs the rights of the electorate.

    And it doesn’t even make sense politicallly, because the politicians lose the opportunity of saying it wasn’t their decision, they had to vote the party line.

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