The Prime Minister is to reject plans for heterosexual civil partnerships, according to The Sunday Times.
A Government source told the newspaper: “Cameron sees it as undermining marriage and the party’s objection is largely driven by fear of a rebellion.”
More Tory MPs voted against gay marriage than supported it, when the issue came to a vote in the House of Commons last year.
Conservative backbencher Gary Streeter, MP for South West Devon, supports Cameron’s view: “The horse has bolted on this. What’s the point when we could leave well alone and move on? Let’s talk about something that will win the election.”
The Government launched a consultation on the proposals in January this year, and are currently analysing the results.
Allowing heterosexual civil partnerships is expected to cost the country at least £3 billion in public service pension rights alone.
The Coalition for Marriage, a grassroots organisation which campaigned against same-sex marriage, warned that the plan would create a “two-tier system”, offering couples the “option of ‘marriage-lite’ instead of the full responsibilities and exclusive lifelong commitment of marriage”.
The group also warned that “opening up a rival institution with a lower threshold of commitment will inevitably reduce the numbers of people marrying”.
Cameron’s view is at odds with that of Nick Clegg, who thinks Britain should allow heterosexual couples to enter a civil partnership.
In Holland and New Zealand heterosexual couples are able to enter into a civil partnership rather than a marriage.
Robert Wintemute, professor of human rights law at King’s College London, said: “In the Netherlands some people don’t like the history of the institution of marriage and some don’t like the terminology. They prefer the idea of being equal civil partners as opposed to husband and wife.”
In May last year, Pensions Minister Steve Webb told the Joint Committee on Human Rights that allowing heterosexual couples to enter a civil partnership would amount to “roughly a £3bn-£4bn cost to public service pension schemes”.