Conor Burns, the gay Tory MP, who previously expressed his reservations about introducing equal marriage, says he is now inclined to support the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

In October, the Bournemouth West, Branksome East and Alderney MP argued that civil partnership legislation had granted gay couples all of the necessary legal entitlements.

In an interview with the Belfast News Letter, the Ulster-born Catholic MP said: “I marvel at why we’re bringing this forward; there is no clamour for this at all within the gay community.

“I’m very concerned – and I’m going to need some serious convincing about this – that while the Human Rights Act remains in place we cannot give the guarantees that I would want to see that churches would not ultimately be forced under human rights legislation to conduct such ceremonies”.

Mr Burns said he had been subjected to “unpleasant” lobbying by equal marriage opponents.

He told the Bournemouth Echo “The lobbying that has been undertaken by those against this bill has been some of the most unpleasant spiteful, hateful things that I’ve ever known,” he said.

“Some of my constituents have written in opposing it. I don’t know what sort of relationship they have with their God but he’s not the God of compassion that I recognise. They’ve been hateful.

“They talk about homosexuality being a disease that will lead to destruction of the human race and gays swirling around in a cesspool of their own making.”

He said he did not think there was a clamour for the gay marriage proposal but added: “That said, it’s being presented as bringing greater equality and as a gay man I don’t see how I can vote against something that’s presented as bringing greater equality.”

MPs will vote on the bill at 7pm today – reports suggest upwards of 120 Conservative MPs could vote against the government’s plans, including some cabinet ministers.