5 bizarre things bigots said equal marriage would lead to – and that never happened, funnily enough

Equal marriage picture showing two grooms getting married

Ten years ago today, on 29 March 2014, the first same-sex weddings took place in England and Wales after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act came into force, finally giving LGBTQ+ couples equal right to marriage.

In the run-up to the law being passed, homophobes told the nation countless times about the possible risks and consequences of allowing LGBTQ+ folks to tie the knot. We were warned that natural disasters would plague the land, people would start marry animals and that the devil would appear from a gay man’s anus (no, really, that was a thing that was actually said).

To mark 10 years of same-sex marriage, which has seen thousands of LGBTQ+ couples get married in officially recognised unions, we look back at some of the most bizarre and bonkers claims made by homophobes.

When discussing the legislation in May 2013, former Conservative Party chairman Lord Norman Tebbit suggested if equal marriage was made law, then it would give precedent to him marrying his own son or brother.

He said: “It’s like one of my colleagues said: we’ve got to make these same-sex marriages available to all. It would lift my worries about inheritance tax because maybe I’d be allowed to marry my son. Why not?

“Why shouldn’t a mother marry her daughter? Why shouldn’t two elderly sisters living together marry each other? I quite fancy my brother!”

In the same rant, he also questioned how same-sex marriage would impact succession in the royal family.

Lord Tebbit said: “When we have a queen who is a lesbian and she marries another lady and then decides she would like to have a child and someone donates sperm and she gives birth to a child, is that child heir to the throne?”

As of 2024, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 still stands, which states it is illegal for a person to knowingly have sex with a “parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece”.

Biblical storms have not washed away England and Wales

In an open letter to then prime minister David Cameron in 2014, UKIP councillor David Silvester said he previously warned the prime minister that if gay people were allowed to marry then the country would face biblical natural disasters.

In his letter, published in the Henley Standard, following flooding over Christmas and New Year, he wrote: ”The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.

“I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage Bill. But he went ahead despite a 600,000-signature petition by concerned Christians and more than half of his own parliamentary party saying that he should not do so.”

Silvester, who was subsequently suspended by UKIP, accused Cameron of shedding “crocodile tears on behalf of destitute flooded homeowners” even though it was “his fault” it happened, because he “arrogantly acted against the Gospel”.

Bestiality has not become the next civil rights frontier

One of the most common reasons homophobes used to push back against same-sex marriage is that it would allegedly lead to people marrying animals.

This deeply homophobic and vile argument was thrown about countless times in the run up to equal marriage coming into force in 2014.

For example, former Fox News host Todd Starnes claimed legalising equal marriage would lead to the legalisation of bestiality.

He said: ”You know it’s interesting because the passage of the Bible that people — that people talk about in regards to, you know, the act of homosexuality, it goes further to talk about that. That men should not lie with beasts. And the women should not do that either. All this kind of stuff.”

Similarly, a UKIP supporter in Newark told The Guardian that gay marriage was like marrying a pig.

The man said at the time: “Civil partnership is absolutely fine, but gay marriage is appalling nonsense. The next thing they will be saying is we should be marrying pigs.”

The devil has not come out of an anus (yet, anyway)

In 2013, US gay porn star turned ‘ex-gay’ Christian fundamentalist Joseph Sciambra claimed anal sex causes gay men to give birth to the devil.

“I’m going to talk about the devil and why he loves anal sex. Anal sex releases into the world rare demonic entities and that even in the body could be conceived as the devil and that would be given birth to anally,” he said in a video.

Sciambra described the damage he allegedly sustained from anal sex, in which he claimed he had to have surgery and “my sphincter almost stitched shut”.

He concluded by touting the “spiritual and mental damage that anal sex can do”, saying: “I do believe that it creates a doorway literally into the demonic, the supernatural”.

Much like with likening gay marriage to bestiality and incest, swathes of bigots said allowing two consenting adults to marry each other would obviously open the floodgates to child marriage and the abuse of children.

US conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said he believed there was a movement to accept the sexual abuse of children as ‘normal’ and likened it to the fight for same-sex marriage.

The conservative political commentator, who died in 2021, said: “There is an effort underway to normalise paedophilia. Yep. And it has two aspects to it. One is that sex with children doesn’t hurt them. Kids like it, and so do adults, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

“It is something… I want to take you back. I want you to remember the first time, wherever you were, that you heard about gay marriage, and I want you to try to recall your reaction — your first gut reaction — when you heard that some activists or somebody was trying to promote the notion of gay marriage.

“What was your initial reaction?”

Similarly, Free Church of Scotland minister James Gracie – a denomination that seeks to reflect “clear Biblical teaching” – said on a BBC Radio Scotland ‘Call Kaye’ discussion show that “if the homosexuals, and these people, want to be treated equally, then what about paedophiles? What about polygamy?”

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