A petition of over half a million signatures against Government plans to redefine marriage has been ignored – as Ministers plough ahead with the controversial measure.
Coalition for Marriage (C4M) handed in the 500,000-strong petition to the Government in June amid guarantees from civil servants that all submissions would be treated equally.
However, the Government has today released its response to the consultation and the hundreds of thousands of C4M petition signatories are excluded from the headline figures.
Colin Hart, Campaign Director of C4M, said: “The decision to ignore a petition of half a million people is disgraceful and undemocratic and goes against assurances from civil servants that all submissions would be treated equally and fairly.
“All those who have signed the petition which the Government has now chosen to ignore deserve to be told why their name on a petition, which includes their address and signature, has been airbrushed out, while completely anonymous internet questionnaires have been counted – is this because a majority of MPs think that the Government should only proceed with their plans if they are supported by a majority of the respondents to the consultation?”
Mr Hart has written to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, asking him to investigate why the Prime Minister and Secretary of State seem to have deliberately ignored advice from the Civil Servants in charge of the consultation on how to present the results of the consultation and whether they have broken the Ministerial Code.
Mr Hart commented: “Supporters of traditional marriage have been misled by the Government. We had assurances by the Civil Service that individual signatories to the petition would be considered as a consultation response. Those assurances have proved to be worthless.
“There were serious flaws with the consultation, not only was it loaded in favour of ripping up the centuries-old definition of marriage, but it lacked even the most basic of safeguards to check the identity of those taking part.
“On a trivial issue this might not matter, but when the PM, or the Minister, is unable to confirm that all the respondents were living in the UK, or were even UK citizens, and that there were no duplicate responses the alarm bells should be ringing.”
David Burrowes MP also criticised the situation: “It makes the consultation a sham in terms of justifying this on the back of numerical support, given that 500,000 people were ignored and they have accepted all-comers from around the globe.”
“The Government doesn’t have a mandate to proceed and the consultation raises more doubts and questions about the public support for going forward,” he said.
Redefining marriage has proved highly contentious among Conservative MPs, with at least 130 of them set to vote against the proposals.
The Government is now set to bring forward a Bill on same-sex marriage in January.