David Cameron would be “very happy” to consider changing the law to allow full homosexual marriage, George Osborne has said.
The shadow chancellor made the remark in a private meeting with homosexual activist, Peter Tatchell, and others ahead of a pro-homosexual demo to be held outside Tory HQ.
A Conservative spokesman has confirmed that Mr Osborne had told Mr Tatchell: “David Cameron and I are very happy to consider the case for gay marriage.”
Clegg and Brown
The move is likely to alienate traditional voters, many of whom already feel ignored by the three major parties.
Although the Civil Partnership Act, passed in 2004, gives many of the rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples, the law stops short of full homosexual marriage.
The Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, backs full marriage for homosexuals and Gordon Brown slammed voters in California for supporting an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
The shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert and shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May joined Mr Osborne in the meeting with Mr Tatchell and fellow campaigners Tamsin Omond and Deborah Grayson.
Mr Tatchell has stood as a Green candidate and once stood in a General Election for Labour. Tamsin Omond and Deborah Grayson have published several anti-Conservative comments on their Twitter accounts.
Mr Tatchell was unimpressed by what Mr Osborne had to say. He said the promise to consider homosexual marriage was “meaningless”.
He said he was disappointed that there had been no “concrete promises” to review the marriage law.
The meeting had been arranged because of a planned protest by homosexual activists outside the Conservative Party’s headquarters.
The group was protesting against comments made by Tory Chris Grayling. He had said that Christians who run B&Bs from their own homes should be allowed to exercise their conscience over who is allowed a double bed.
Mr Tatchell said: “The Tories are obviously worried that Chris Grayling’s comments in support of homophobic discrimination by B&B owners have undermined their party’s image as being gay-friendly.
“We only got this meeting with George Osborne because of the planned protest and because of the anti-Tory backlash generated by Mr Grayling’s support for discrimination.”
According to Mr Tatchell, Mr Osborne said if full homosexual marriage was proposed in the Commons, Tory MPs would be given a free vote – meaning they could vote according to their conscience.
At the weekend David Cameron said his party would change the law so that past convictions for consensual gay sex with over-16s, committed before the age of consent was reduced, would not show up on criminal record checks.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “The Tories’ panic following Chris Grayling’s moderate comments about respecting people’s consciences and now this news about considering same-sex marriage shows that, on this issue, Cameron is quite willing to ignore the traditional values of the ordinary Brit.
“He is considering a revolutionary change to the age-old definition of Marriage simply to please the values of mostly anti-Tory homosexual activists and metropolitan media elites.
“I would encourage Christians everywhere to ask their candidates where they stand on the issue of allowing full same-sex marriage, and whether they will oppose it.
“Others may disagree with the historic Christian view, but the Bible teaches that homosexual sex is morally wrong, as do the other major global religions.
“Churchgoing Christians with traditional beliefs are already feeling sidelined and let down by the major parties and I believe this latest news will simply increase the stay-at-home vote on polling day.”