Speaking at the House of Commons debate around equal marriage today, a Kent MP questioned why, if the government were to allow equal marriage for gay couples, it did not allow incestuous marriages.

Sir Roger Gale, a member of the Conservative Party since 1964, who chaired the standing committee dealing with the civil partnerships bill, referred to incest as part of his argument against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

He said: “There is a way forward. It has been suggested but it has been ignored. I do not subscribe to it myself but I recognise the merit in the argument, and that is this; if the government is serious about this, take it away, abolish the civil partnerships bill, abolish civil marriage, and create a civil union bill that applies to all people, irrespective of their sexuality or their relationships, and that means brother and brothers, sisters and sisters and brothers and sisters as well. That would be a way forward. This is not.”

Labour MP, Chris Bryant, responded to Sir Roger and pointed out that his comments could be “profoundly offensive” to those in civil partnerships.

In March 2012, a public meeting was called in Thanet after Sir Roger, who has been North Thanet’s MP for nearly thirty years, wrote an article describing Prime Minister David Cameron’s equal marriage plans as “almost Stalinist” that would “rewrite history and tradition”.

The twice-divorced Kent MP previously questioned whether allowing gay couples to marry would result in Shakespeare being rewritten to redact gender-specific words like ‘husband’ and ‘wife’.

Thanet District Council later resoundingly voted in favour of equal marriage proposals by a two-thirds majority, making it the first council in Kent and the second in the UK to vote in its favour. 

Follow developments in the Commons debate on equal marriage on the PinkNews Live Blog.