Labour MP Rob Flello, who strongly criticised the decision to legalise equal marriage earlier this year, has quit his job as shadow justice minister.

The Catholic MP voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act at third reading in the Commons in May.

Speaking during the second reading debate in February, the Stoke-on-Trent MP said: “I am amazed that the government should bring forward this bill at a time when there are other pressing issues. Despite having gay friends and relatives, the issue of same-sex marriage has never once been brought to my attention; I have never had a constituent write to me asking me to raise it. I recall that many MPs were quick to praise the civil partnerships legislation as being everything that the gay community wanted – that it created the equality for which they had fought for so long.”

Mentioning gay Labour MP and Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant, Mr Flello continued: “As we have heard, my Honourable Friend Chris Bryant – I hope he is still my Honourable Friend – has previously said that in his view the idea that the gay community would want marriage is nonsense.”

Mr Flello added: “Marriage is the union of a man and a woman that is open to the creation and care of children – not in all cases, but fundamentally that is its intrinsic value. This bill will fundamentally change that. Despite all the issues that have been raised and the insults hurled by those on both sides of the argument, I will oppose the bill. I believe that it creates inequality and that it does not tackle an existing inequality on the basis that the current legislation has been tested in the European Court and it has been shown that there is no inequality.”

Announcing his departure from the shadow frontbench on Tuesday, Mr Flello said: “After careful consideration I have decided to return to the backbenches to focus on my other parliamentary interests.

“It has been a privilege to serve Ed Miliband and Sadiq Khan as shadow minister for victims of crime, youth justice and family and civil law.

“I have learned a great deal during my time with the justice team and will continue to use that specialist knowledge wherever I can on behalf of those in need of assistance.”