HIGH Peak MP Andrew Bingham has insisted he is not homophobic after voting against plans to legalise gay marriage in the UK.
Prime Minister David Cameron and leading Cabinet ministers had championed allowing same-sex couples to marry.
But Mr Bingham was among 136 Tory MPs who controversially went against Mr Cameron’s wishes and opted to oppose the changes in a key Commons vote earlier this week.
Speaking to the Buxton Advertiser, Mr Bingham said: “I’m not homophobic or bigoted.
“This is an issue of conscience – I don’t see the need to change the legal definition of marriage and I think current civil partnerships are satisfactory.
“I’ve had a huge amount of emails about this subject and I’ve spoken to many members of the gay community and a lot of people have said they don’t particularly agree with this law.”
Mr Bingham added that he had received a number of offensive emails and messages on Twitter following the contentious vote.
He said: “I understand that this really does polarise opinion and I apologise to people who feel let down.”
Mr Bingham said he did not think that “politics and religion should mix”.
He added: “I think that as a Government we have more urgent things to deal with – look at the economy and the crisis in Syria, for example.”
Caitlin Bisknell, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the High Peak at the next general election, said that she would have voted for the legislation if she was in power.
MPs voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill by 400 to 175, a majority of 225.
Lists show that 136 Conservatives – almost half of the party’s MPs – voted against the bill.
Of the remaining Tory MPs, 127 were in favour, 35 did not vote and five registered an abstention by voting for and against.
The legislation will receive more detailed parliamentary scrutiny and if it becomes law same-sex couples will be able to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies.
The Prime Minister said Tuesday night’s vote had been “an important step forward” and Labour leader Ed Miliband called it a “proud day”.
• What do you think about this story? Email email@example.com.