British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has pulled a draft speech in which he branded opponents of gay marriage ‘bigots’, claims Sky News.
The Liberal Democrat Party leader was expected to make the speech at a reception this evening (11 September).
Sky News says the earlier draft released by officials said: ‘Continued trouble in the economy gives the bigots a stick to beat us with, as they demand we “postpone” the equalities agenda in order to deal with “the things people really care about”.’
But his staff then said that version of the speech should not have been released.
The new version states: ‘Continued trouble in the economy leads some people to demand we “postpone” the equalities agenda in order to deal with “the things people really care about”.’
His remarks about the economy relate to Britain’s current double-dip recession.
Clegg’s government held a public consultation earlier this year about plans to equalize marriage laws in England and Wales.
He has advocated for the change and called on it to go further than original government proposals so as to allow for religious organizations to carry out gay and lesbian marriages if they wish to. However, no faith group will be forced to marry same-sex couples.
His boss in the coalition government, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has also repeatedly backed gay marriage and pledged to legislate on it by 2015.
An unspecified number of Conservative Members of Parliament – who will be given a free vote on the issue – and some other politicians may oppose marriage equality when it finally is debated.
But it is supported by Labour, the other main political group in the UK Parliament.
And repeated polls have indicated in excess of 60% of Britons support the move, including most people of faith.
Despite this, it has been met with fierce opposition led by the religious-right, including senior people in the Church of England and Catholic Church.
A separate consultation on gay marriage equality in Scotland has already taken place and the government has flagged the issue for debate during the next parliamentary year.