After a five hour debate, MPs voted in favour of gay marriage by overwhelming majority last night.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was approved by 400 votes to 175. While the majority of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs voted in favour of the legislation, a greater number of Conservative MPs voted against same sex marriage (136) than voted in support (127), the New Statesman reports.
Cabinet ministers Owen Paterson and David Jones were amongst those voting against the bill. Eight junior ministers and eight whips also voted against.
When abstentions are included, 58 per cent of Tory MPs voted against the bill. A total of 22 Labour MPs voted against and 16 abstained – 15 per cent of the party. Meanwhile, four Liberal Democrat MPs voted against, with seven abstentions – 20 per cent, in total, of the party’s presence in the House of Commons.
MPs were given a free vote on the issue, with no requirement to vote along party political lines.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:”I am a strong believer in marriage. It helps people commit to each other and I think it is right that gay people should be able to get married too.This is, yes, about equality. But it is also about making our society stronger. I know there are strong views on both side of the argument – I accept that. But this is an important step forward for our country.”
The legislation will now move forward for greater parliamentary scrutiny. Provided the bill reaches the statute books, the fist gay marriages in the UK could take place within 12 months.