Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh has defended a high court judge who previously branded equal marriage the government’s “wrong policy”.

Sir Edward, himself a staunch opponent of marriage rights for same-sex couples and of gay rights in general, described Sir Paul Coleridge as a person who “should be listened to” during a Westminster Hall debate on the breakdown of marriage. It had been tabled by former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth.

In May last year, Sir Gerald warned of the dangers of the “aggressive homosexual community”, during a Commons debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.

Speaking on Tuesday, Sir Edward robustly defended high court judge Sir Paul Coleridge.

In December 2012, Sir Paul said that ministers should focus on supporting existing married couples, rather than the “wrong policy” of equal marriage, which he claimed affects only “0.1%″ of the population.

Sir Paul announced last month that he will be retiring early, claiming that the judiciary had ostracised him for his views on marriage.

It was subsequently revealed he had been disciplined over his decision to write about his views on marriage in The Daily Telegraph.

Sir Edward told the Commons: “We have to speak up about it all the time, because there is almost a conspiracy of silence about such issues. Over the past 50 years, a view has grown in our permissive society that people are happiest if they are completely liberated and can do what they want and say, ‘It is about me.’ The churches, successive governments, schools, the BBC, national newspapers and we as Members of Parliament are all complicit in that permissive view of society, which has left a trail of despair in its wake.”

The Gainsborough MP continued: “Sir Paul Coleridge, the family division judge, has been mentioned. He is one of the very few people who have had the courage to speak about this matter. He deals with these issues every day of his working life.

“He warns of the ‘yawning public ignorance’ of the mental effects on children of conflict between parents, even from birth. He is either retired or about to retire, and The Daily Telegraph said that he ‘decided to step down because of opposition from within the judiciary to his support for traditional marriage.

“He has been placed under investigation and could be officially censured over comments last year
criticising the government for pushing through same-sex marriage legislation rather than tackling a ‘crisis of family breakdown’.”

Mr Leigh added: “He is a man who knows what is going on and he should be listened to.”