Gay former Tory mayor: Same-sex marriage act is a ‘silly and dreadful’ law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Brian Coleman, the gay former Conservative London Assembly Member and ex-mayor of Barnet, has described the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act as a “silly” and “dreadful” piece of legislation.

Mr Coleman made the comments last week at a meeting of Barnet Council. The 52-year-old was expelled from the Conservative Party earlier this year after he admitted attacking a woman as she filmed him parking illegally in north London last September.

The outspoken politician admitted a charge of common assault by beating in May and was ordered to pay £1,385.

He currently sits as an independent councillor for the Barnet ward of Totteridge. Mr Coleman has been engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to allow local registers to opt out of marrying same-sex couples on grounds of religious belief.

Amendments urging for registrars to be allowed to opt out of performing marriages for gay couples were defeated in both the Commons and the Lords ahead of Royal Assent of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

Speaking at last Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Mr Coleman said: “This act is a dreadful and silly piece of legislation and I know many gay men and women who think the same.

“We now have no protection if [council staff] have a moral objection to implement this policy, so we are effectively ruling out vast areas of our community from taking jobs as registrars.”

The Equality Act 2010 states that it’s illegal to refuse to provide goods and services based upon a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in February declared that registrars should not be able to opt out of performing marriages for same-sex couples because unlike religious ministers they are deemed to be public officials.

In January, Lillian Ladele, a former registrar from Islington, north London, lost a case at the European Court of Human Rights.

Ms Ladele had unsuccessfully argued that she should be permitted to opt out of performing civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples because of her Christian beliefs.

Mr Coleman had been part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s team at City Hall until May 2012.

He lost his seat on the London Assembly during the capital’s local elections along with Mr Johnson’s gay statutory deputy mayor Richard Barnes.