Men in a gay marriage can be legally called ‘wives’ and woman called ‘husbands’ under the Government’s gay marriage Bill.
The bizarre redefinition is found in the small print to the official explanation of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
Critics called it “ridiculous” and a “mangling of the English language” which belongs to “cloud cuckoo land”.
According to the official explanation published alongside the Bill, the terms husbands and wives will in some circumstances mean people of either gender.
“This means that ‘husband’ here will include a man or a woman in a same sex marriage, as well as a man married to a woman,” it says.
“In a similar way, ‘wife’ will include a woman married to another woman or a man married to a man.
“The result is that this section is to be construed as including both male and female same sex marriage.”
It then goes on to say that in future legislation the traditional male-only meaning of husband and female-only understanding of wife could make a comeback – but not in all cases.
“The term ‘husband’ will in future legislation include a man who is married to another man (but not a woman in a marriage with another woman),” it adds, confusingly.
“And ‘wife’ will include a woman who is married to another woman (but not a man married to another man) unless specific alternative provision is made.”
A spokesman for the Coalition for Marriage, which campaigns against the change, said: “We always knew the Government would tie itself in knots trying to redefine marriage, and this shows what a ridiculous mess they’ve created.
“This mangling of the English language shows what happens when politicians meddle with marriage. They’re in cloud cuckoo land.”