Peer who said same-sex marriage would lead to ‘immorality’ fights for humanist weddings

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Baroness Butler-Sloss, who staunchly opposed same-sex marriage during last year’s debates, has said now that it is legal, there is no reason humanist weddings should not be allowed to take place.

The 80-year-old is no stranger to controversy. She said last year that same-sex marriage was a “step too far”.

The peer claimed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act would remove the concept of adultery in divorces of same-sex couples and lead to “immorality”.

Despite her opposition to equal marriage, she maintained that she was not homophobic.

Speaking in the House of Lords yesterday, the Crossbench peer said: “We have so changed the concept of marriage that I cannot understand why we are not just getting on with it,” she says.

Lord Ashton of Hyde said he did not agree that ministers were “being slow” to address the issue of humanist weddings.

“I have always spoken in favour of same-sex relationships and the rights of homosexual people. This does seem to me a different issue and one which attacks marriage,” she said.

Lady Butler-Sloss admitted that her reservations were partly religious but went far beyond the bounds of Christianity.

She claimed that no additional rights would be given to same-sex couples through the introduction of same-sex marriage, and that ministers should be addressing more important issues.

“[I cannot understand] why the government is faffing around with gay marriage,” she said.

Marriage laws in England and Wales mean humanist weddings are not able to take place, however in Scotland they are fully legal.

Butler-Sloss, a retired judge appointed to chair a child abuse inquiry, and one of the most vocal critics of the government’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage for England and Wales, later stepped down citing family ties.