South Dorset Conservative MP Richard Drax has complained of the lack of “tolerance” towards “the millions who believe that ‘marriage’ can only be between a man and a woman.”

Writing for the Dorset Daily Echo, Mr Drax said: “As a nation, we pride ourselves on tolerance. But during a controversial and emotive debate in the House over gay marriage this week, there was scant evidence of it being shown to the millions who believe that ‘marriage’ can only be between a man and a woman.

“Instead, in what is arguably one of the most intolerant pieces of legislation in years, we have trampled on conscience and faith with abandon. There are no protections for teachers who refuse to promote same-sex marriage or for registrars who conscientiously object to conducting gay marriages, or even for those, who, like me, happen to disagree.”

The MP continued: “And if this does become law, gay couples will be able to choose marriage or civil union, while heterosexual couples can only marry. The government has no answer to these disparities.”

He concluded: “During the debate, Conservative colleagues talked of the ‘chilling effect’ legislation like this creates. That cold wind, silencing dissent, already blows across our country and it worries me.”

Before the third reading of the bill, Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller, outlined religious protections for military chaplains and for teachers of faith who disagree with promoting equal marriage. 

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons with a large majority on Tuesday evening. 

Yesterday, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell praised Prime Minister David Cameron, for “sticking to his guns” on equal marriage in the face of considerable opposition from his own party.

128 Conservative MPs voted against the bill.

Peers in the House of Lords will start debating the bill on 3 June.