Conservative MP John Whittingdale, who is Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, has confirmed that he plans to vote against same-sex marriage in response to a letter from a fellow Essex resident.

A PinkNews reader contacted the Maldon MP after seeing him listed among those who intend to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on Tuesday.

Mr Whittingdale responded:

I was interested to read your comments and understand that you are in favour of the proposals to legalise same sex marriage. However, I have received a large number of communications from constituents on this subject and the overwhelming majority have been strongly opposed.

I have previously supported civil partnerships which gave legal rights to same sex couples. However, I see no need to extend this to marriage and do not believe that there is a strong demand for this from the gay community. Indeed, I know several gay couples who are not in favour. Moreover, I recognise that this will cause distress to many, particularly those with strong religious beliefs. I am also concerned that the protections which the Government promise for churches, teachers and others with strong beliefs may be undermined by the European Court of Human Rights. I also believe that there are far more pressing issues which Parliament should be addressing.

Conservative MPs will have a free vote on the issue and for these reasons I intend to vote against the Bill. However, since the overwhelming majority of the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats are likely to support it, I expect that it is almost certain that the House of Commons will approve it.

Mr Whittingdale is one of several Tory MPs to have come out in opposition to David Cameron’s same-sex marriage bill, in what some have termed a revolt in the Conservative Party.

Jacob Rees-Mogg said on the issue: “I take my whip from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church rather than the Whip’s Office,” while Nadine Dorries called the bill “politically suicidal”.

On Sunday, 23 Tory Chairmen wrote to David Cameron urging him not to go ahead with the vote.