Baroness Warsi blasted by National Secular Society for failing to ‘steer’ equal marriage in Lords

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The Minister for Faith and Communities, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, has been accused by the National Secular Society of refusing to “steer” the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill through the House of Lords.

Peers will debate and vote on the bill at second reading from Monday of next week.

Last December, Baroness Warsi raised concerns about the bill’s provisions for religious protections with Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities Maria Miller.

However, Baroness Warsi suggested in January that she was inclined to support the bill.

She told the Daily Politics: “Providing I can get the legal safeguards, which I have been speaking to Maria Miller about, and providing the faith communities are on the right page, and all of that, I will be voting for gay marriage.”

In 2005, when she unsuccessfully stood as the MP for Dewsbury, Baroness Warsi issued leaflets which used homophobic language.

Her leaflets claimed children were being “propositioned” for gay relationships.

Baroness Warsi later said she regretted the incident.

On Thursday, Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “Lady Warsi’s title of Minister for Faith and Communities seems something of a misnomer. She appears uninterested in the interests of communities – or at least one particular community – and focuses entirely on faith.”

He continued: “It is simply not acceptable for a minister to allow their religion to dictate their political actions when it is to the detriment of a minority whose rights she has been charged to protect.”

Mr Sanderson added: “If she is asked by the prime minister to represent the government she should do so. Lady Warsi is unfit for the job she has been given and should be replaced by someone with a more balanced approach.”

In response, a government spokesman said to “As the government’s spokesperson on Women and Equalities, Baroness Stowell is taking the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill through the House of Lords. This has always been the case.”