Lord Dear tells PinkNews reader: ‘I want to improve the equal marriage bill and I’m not homophobic’

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Crossbench peer Lord Dear has told a PinkNews.co.uk reader that it’s wrong to conclude that his concerns on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill means he is homophobic.

The former Chief Constable of West Midlands Police had tabled a ‘fatal’ amendment to deny the bill its second reading, but this was defeated earlier this month with the Lords voting 390 votes to 148 in favour of the bill.

Peers resumed debate of the bill on Monday afternoon.

Last week, Lord Dear proposed a new amendment to the bill concerning ‘traditional marriage’.

It aims to protect those who believe marriage is “the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others.”

Responding to an email by a PinkNews.co.uk reader, who used the Lobby a Lord site to encourage the peer to support marriage equality, Lord Dear replied:  “I do not intend to press for a vote on any of my amendments during the forthcoming three days that the bill is considered in committee stage in the House, and I doubt whether any others will.

“The amendments that I have seen are neither silly nor spiteful – they are honest attempts to try to address matters that a better and deeper considered bill would have considered. In particular, most are intended to provide some protection for those who fear disadvantage if the bill passes into law in its present form. That, as much as anything, is what equality is really about.”

Answering claims that the tabling of his amendments amounted to homophobia, and that he should not stand in the way of last month’s successful House of Commons third reading of the bill, Lord Dear replied: “All members of the Lords are unelected – that is to balance the elected element of the Commons with people who can bring a depth of experience to legislation; something not always present in any elected chamber. The role of the Lords is to revise and suggest amendments to the Commons, not to clash with its elected mandate.”

He added: “Your conclusions as to homophobia are unfair, inaccurate and demonstrate, if I may say so, a massive lack of appreciation of most of the elements in play in this issue.”