Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, one of the fiercest critics of equal rights for lesbian and gay people, has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Sir Edward has received his knighthood for his services to political and public life. He began his political career managing correspondence for Margaret Thatcher when she was leader of the opposition.

The devout Catholic, who previously opposed civil partnership legislation, and campaigned against the removal of Section 28, the law which banned schools from teaching students about homosexuality, voted against same-sex marriage in each of the recent votes in the House of Commons.

Last year, in an article for his local newspaper, he described himself as “among the foremost opponents” of equal marriage:-

“No subject has ever been the cause of greater concern to those in Gainsborough who write to me than that of the coalition’s plan to introduce legislation to redefine civil marriage to include same-sex couples. I am among the foremost opponents of this plan.

“Civil partnerships, as they currently stand in law, provide those who take part in them with all the legal benefits and privileges of marriage. And yet, as a society, we have continually decided to reserve marriage as a particular and exclusive state of life freely entered into between a man and a woman and recognised in law”.

Mr Leigh went on to say: “I believe that this situation has stood the test of time for centuries, and that it is very foolish to muck about with it. The coalition’s far-reaching proposals would have the effect of reaching into all marriages which have so far been recognised by the state and changing them into something similar but altogether different”.

“I am surprised but encouraged by the sheer volume of correspondence I have received from constituents on this matter, and I remain calmly hopeful that the government will see sense regarding its plans, and the current wise compromise we enjoy regarding marriage and civil partnerships will be maintained.”

During a recent same-sex marriage debate, Sir Edward said: “We have to get away from the idea that every single thing in life can be forced through the merciless prism of equality.”

Sir Edward is a harsh critic of prime minister David Cameron on a variety of fronts, although his honour would have been approved by Mr Cameron.