Tory Faith Minister Baroness Warsi abstains in equal marriage Lords vote

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Having previously indicated she would vote in favour, the Minister for Faith and Communities, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, refused to support the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in last night’s House of Lords vote.

Baroness Warsi told the Mail: “I have a number of ongoing concerns which have been raised by faith communities and others.

“I am in discussion with colleagues about them. At this stage, I felt that I could not vote for the bill and so I abstained.”

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.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill passed its second reading in the Lords with a thumping majority of 242 on Tuesday evening.

A ‘wrecking’ amendment by Lord Dear, a former chief constable, was defeated by 390 votes to 148.

The bill will now face further scrutiny in the Lords.