A protester holds a rainbow flag outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on June 3, 2013, as protesters gather in support of same-sex marriage (LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
The House of Commons has voted to remove the requirement for doctors to consider the need for a father when assessing women for ferility treatments.
Doctors will now consider whether a child will have ‘supportive parenting.’
MPs voted 292 to 217 against an amendment by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith that would have retained the need for a father.
A second amendment that would have required consideration of “a father or a male role model” was defeated by 290 votes to 222.
In a well-attended debate in the House, MPs from all sides argued passionately about the role of fathers and the rights of lesbians and single women to be treated equally.
Veteran Tory MP Sir Patrick Cormack clashed with members of his own party when he claimed that he has many lesbian and gay friends who agree with him that children are God-given and that lesbian or gay couples are not able to raise a child as well as a heterosexual couple.
Labour MP Geraldine Smith tried to argue that no lesbian had ever complained that she had been discriminated against, which angered her colleague, openly gay MP Chris Bryant, and the Tory member John Bercow.
Some MPs such as former Home Secretary David Blunkett and Tory Tim Loughton said that it is acceptable that children are adopted by same-sex couples but a child created without a father is not.
DUP MP Iris Robinson told the House that she believed that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, and claimed that her Christian views were being mocked by other MPs.
“You are putting the rights of lesbians above all others in this country and you should hang your heads in shame,” she said.
Mr Duncan Smith said that no lesbians had been denied treatment under the current arrangements, but that fatherhood is important.
“It is not us who moved the amendment who have to justify this position, it is the government.”
Labour MPs were given a free vote on the issue, but will be expected to support the whole Human Fertilisation and Embryology BIll later.
Tory and Lib Dem MPs have a free vote on all aspects of the bill.
Yesterday MPs voted in favour of the creation of so-called ‘saviour siblings,’ children who genetically match a sick brother or sister, and human-animal embryos for research purposes, which are destroyed after 14 days.
Later this evening MPs will vote on an amendment to lower the time limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 22 or 20 weeks. A series of votes will be held and a result is not expected until after 10pm.