Huge majority against gay marriage 'hidden from MPs'
Claim that most people favour same-sex marriage is ‘dishonest’ because it ignores petitions, say critics
THE government's claim that a majority of people are in favour of its push to legalise same-sex marriage is "dishonest", The Daily Telegraph reports.
MPs will be told today that a survey of 228,000 people who took part in a "listening exercise" earlier this year found a narrow majority in favour of allowing gay couples to marry.
But until now it has not been made clear that petitions organised by campaigners show a huge majority against gay marriage. More than 500,000 people signed up against same-sex marriage, as against 64,000 signatories supporting it.
There are also complaints that the listening exercise was not limited to people living in the UK. There have been claims that lobbying groups in the United States were trying to recruit people to send in responses.
Details of the government's plans will be outlined in the Commons today by Culture Secretary Maria Miller. As The Mole reported yesterday, David Cameron and Michael Gove – backed by former prime minister John Major - are among senior Tories who believe the party must move with the times, while many grassroots Conservatives do not want to be railroaded into accepting gay marriage.
It is understood Miller will tell MPs that between 52 and 53 per cent of the 228,000 questioned were in favour. But the Conservative MP David Burrowes told the Telegraph: "If they want to rely on those figures it is wholly disingenuous. It makes the consultation a sham in terms of justifying this on the back of numerical support, given that 500,000 people were ignored and they have accepted all-comers from around the globe."
As The Guardian reports, another Tory MP, Bob Stewart, has accused the government of "being hellbent on upsetting so many thousands of our citizens in normal marriages".
The Welsh MP David Davies is another who opposes same sex unions. He insists he is not a bigot because as a boxer he had once fought and trained with a gay boxer.
Burrowes believes there is now a strong case for a referendum on the issue.