A poll carried out by the ConservativeHome website has found that 71% of Tory members say same-sex marriage is splitting the party and only one in three Conservative members admire David Cameron for “standing up for gay equality”.

David Cameron’s popularity among LGBT voters has risen since he backed equal marriage, according to a PinkNews.co.uk poll.

However, a survey of more than 2,500 Conservative Party members shows widespread disdain for the prime minister’s equal marriage plans among his core supporters. A majority of Tory members (64%) think same-sex marriage is unnecessary because gay people can already opt for civil partnerships, while 32% disagree.

Seven out of 10 (71 per cent) think same-sex marriage will not be a “big issue” at the next election.

Almost six out of 10 (58%) believe that marriage “should remain between one man and one woman”, while 34% disagree.

And only one in three Conservative members (36%) admire the prime minister for “standing up for gay equality”, while 55% do not.

In response to the poll, the Independent reported one unnamed Tory MP saying: “Gay marriage is a toxic mix – we are in danger of playing into UKIP’s hands.

Earlier this month, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, said the issue of equal marriage could “rip apart” the Conservative Party, and he promised to exploit the division among Tories for the benefit of UKIP.

In November, Tim Montgomerie, the editor of ConservativeHome urged David Cameron to argue more passionately in favour of marriage equality, however, he warned that at present, Mr Cameron is on the “right side of history, but the wrong side of his core voters” on the issue.