Ed Miliband, the Labour Party’s new leader, has backed Labour’s record on same-sex civil partnerships and said he does not believe in God.
At the Labour party conference on Tuesday, Mr Miliband said he was “privileged” to have been at Manchester’s gay pride march and he said Labour should be “proud” of its Civil Partnership Act.
And on Wednesday, speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, Mr Miliband said: “I don’t believe in God personally but I have great respect for those people who do”.
The new Labour leader added “different people have different religious views in this country” and commented: “The great thing is that we are all, whether we have faith or not, we are by and large very tolerant of people, whatever their particular view.”
Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in 2007 that he did not believe in God, while David Cameron says he has a faith which “grows hotter and colder by moments”.
Mr Miliband also commented that “many” faith schools “do a fantastic job in our society”, commenting that many had been offering educational services before the state.
He added that he was not going to criticise faith schools, saying: “I think that it’s important for people of different backgrounds and different faiths go to school together. Many faith schools do that.”
Last month Mr Miliband declared his support for same-sex marriage, insisting a Labour Party led by him would campaign to change the definition of marriage and enforce it throughout the nation.
And speaking to the Labour Party conference in Manchester Mr Miliband said: “Let me tell you that last month I was privileged to be in this great city, at Pride, to see not just thousands of people marching but thousands of people lining the street in support.
“We should be proud that our commitment to equality means we have couples forming civil partnerships across the country and celebrating with their family and friends.”
Earlier this week it emerged that Mr Miliband’s name is missing from his son’s birth certificate.
And Mr Miliband is also the first British political leader of a major party to be living with his family out of wedlock.
Responding to these controversies Ed Miliband said he was “embarrassed” not to have put his name on his son’s birth certificate. He said it was due to confusion over the rules relating to parents who are not married.
Mr Miliband also said he will get married at some point but claimed people are “pretty relaxed” about him being unmarried at the moment.