Speaker John Bercow: We don’t have equal marriage until it’s in churches

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The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow praised Tony Blair and called for churches to embrace equal marriage, at the PinkNews Parliamentary reception.

Mr Bercow, who was recently elected Speaker for the third time, made the comments in a speech to a PinkNews reception marking 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.

The Commons Speaker is typically expected to be impartial on political matters, but has been a strong advocate for LGBT rights in his role.

Hosting the event in Speaker’s House, Mr Bercow questioned whether same-sex marriage was truly equal while still resisted by major religious groups.

He said: “We don’t want to behave like it’s all over, everything’s been done and nothing remains, because that isn’t true.

“I still feel we’ll only have proper equal marriage when you can bloody well get married in a church if you want to do so, without having to fight the church for the equality that should be your right.”

The Speaker said progress on LGBT rights were down to “a terrific set of accomplishments with governments of both colours having much of which they can be proud”.

In comments bound to rile Tory MPs, he singled out former Labour PM Tony Blair for overseeing reforms including the repeal of Section 28, an equal age of consent, and civil partnerships.

The Speaker said: “I’ve always thought proper credit should be given to the Blair government, which was a hugely reforming government, and Tony Blair personally, who was a terrific force for good on these issues.”

“Credit where it is due, the Cameron government did something very remarkable on equal marriage. I’ve always thought same-sex marriage legislation was David Cameron’s greatest achievement in Parliament.”

Speaker Bercow has consistently spoken out for LGBT rights in the Commonwealth and around the world, including serving as President of the Kaleidoscope Trust, which seeks to uphold LGBT human rights abroad.

Prior to his appointment as Speaker, Mr Bercow was a consistent rebel within the Conservatives on gay rights issues – resigning from Iain Duncan Smith’s frontbench team in 2002 to vote in favour of gay adoption.

As a Conservative MP he condemned Margaret Thatcher for introducing Section 28, one of few Tory MPs to give a speech against the proposal.

The PinkNews Parliamentary reception is generously supported by Lloyds Banking Group.

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