Tory MP Steve Baker: Letting gays marry will not improve tolerance in our society

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Conservative MP for Wycombe, Steve Baker, has said that the Government’s plans for same-sex marriage will not improve tolerance in society. He said the Government should wait 10 years before letting gay couples marry.

Mr Baker told the Bucks Free Press that the plans are “a mess” adding: “This is the wrong way of improving tolerance in society.”

He said the plans will infringe on freedom of speech, conscience and religions.

“I do not think anybody should be forced to approve of a gay marriage,” he said. “I don’t think anyone should be forced to conduct one or be forced to have one in their church.”

What’s strange about Mr Baker’s argument is that the Government has said no church will be forced to conduct a same-sex marriage. Indeed, the Churches of England and Wales have been banned from holding them at all.

Mr Baker criticised some of his fellow MPs for the tone of their objections to the proposals: “Some of what’s been said by fellow Christians seems quite heartbreaking. Many Christians seem determined to jump with both feet on the land mine with this. Our religion is one of universal acceptance and love and we as a church, apart from politics, need to work out what our response is to homosexuality in the 21st century.

“In the meantime there must be genuine tolerance- that tolerance begins with irreconcilable differences of opinion and it should end with a refusal to use the law to enforce one particular point of view. I want to live in a genuinely tolerant society where people can go their own way who are not doing anybody any harm.”

He told the newspaper that civil partnerships should have been retained as the only form of formalised relationship for now, with the issue of same-sex marriage being readdressed in ten years.

Mr Baker said: “We seem to have begun to accept the liberal elite enforcing their views on everyone else. That is not tolerant. That is intolerant.”

He added: “The law has to leave plenty of space for a private sphere where people can lead their life as they see fit as long as they do no harm. Marriage is part of that private sphere.”

Mr Baker is at odds with his party leader and Prime Minister, David Cameron. Backing the proposals, Mr Cameron said:

“I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.

“But let me be absolutely 100% clear, if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it.

“That is absolutely clear in the legislation.

“Also let me make clear, this is a free vote for Members of Parliament but personally I will be supporting it.”