Liam Fox: Gays should be treated with respect – but banned from marrying

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Former defence secretary Liam Fox says as a medical doctor same-sex relationships are a variant of the spectrum of human sexual behavior, although this does not mean he approves of the government’s equal marriage plans.

Dr Fox resigned from the government in 2011 over his friendship with the lobbyist Adam Werrity.

His successor, Philip Hammond, has also previously spoken out against marriage equality.

Asked whether he would support the government’s proposals to allow same-sex couples to marry by a reader, Dr Fox replied:

“This debate has become divisive and bitter involving sections of the British public who are not normally stirred to political anger. It has led to the alienation of many loyal and, in many cases lifelong, supporters of the Conservative Party. Before things get out of hand we should take a step back to consider the situation with as much objectivity as we can.”

“The proposals for same-sex marriages in church are supported by many of my friends and colleagues in Parliament who have held this position clearly and honorably for a long time. They are perfectly entitled to their views and they should be listened to with due consideration. Indeed, the whole debate would benefit from a good deal more circumspection and without ulterior motives being insinuated by both sides.”

The Somerset MP went on to say: “As a doctor I believe that same-sex relationships are a variant of the spectrum of human sexual behaviour and should be treated with tolerance and respect. Prejudice dressed in any other clothes is still the same.”

He also claimed that equal marriage was not a civil rights issue. Dr Fox said: “Proponents of same-sex marriage argue that any change is simply a matter of equal rights. I disagree with them. I believe that this argument fails to understand the full complexities of the social issues involved. If this were simply an argument about righting a wrong, with no other consequences, it would not be creating so much division.”

Dr Fox claimed civil partnership legislation had already addressed inequality. He continued: “The legal introduction of civil partnerships, recognising the legal basis of same­-sex relationships, dealt with the perceived and real discrimination against a section of our population. It was a remedy that was widely accepted, not least as it affected only those who had long faced this discrimination in their legal and financial affairs.

“The change in the status of marriage in the proposed legislation does not fit this pattern. It proposes to change the definition of marriage for all, for the perceived benefit of a much smaller number. Unlike civil partnerships it is not even clear that there is much demand for the change. I have not heard any of the gay friends that I have clamour for same-sex marriage in the way that they demanded the right for civil partnerships.”

In regards to the government’s ban on the Church of England and Church in Wales from performing same-sex marriages, Dr Fox said: “What makes the position worse is the way that the legislation increasingly looks as though it was made on the hoof to deal with the political problem du jour. Banning the Church of England from what would be an otherwise legal activity is anomalous and absurd.

“If the “exemption” is, as stated, because the church had made clear their objection to same-sex marriage then why not exempt the Catholic Church which has been even clearer in its opposition.”