Mr Tatchell is national coordinator of the Equal Love campaign, which is seeking to overturn the twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships.
“This issue is a matter of equality and human rights. If the government believes in ending homophobic discrimination in marriage law, it should expect all its MPs to support equality. Relegating it to a free vote suggests that David Cameron does not regard marriage equality as an important principle and policy
“With a free vote, equal marriage will become law. Even if some Tory MPs rebel and vote against it, the legislation it will pass. The combined votes of pro-gay marriage Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs are enough to secure marriage equality.
“It is claimed by the opponents of the government’s plans that 100 Conservative MPs will vote against marriage equality. But this number of rebels is doubtful. So far, relatively few Tory MPs have expressed their intention to oppose equal marriage rights.
“I suspect this number is exaggerated. Even if 100 Conservative MPs voted against same-sex marriage, it would not be enough to defeat the legislation.
“Public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage. A Populus poll in March 2012 found that 65% of the public agreed with the statement: ‘Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.’ Only 27% disagreed. This represents a steady increase in public support for marriage equality and a steep decline in public opposition.
See here: www.populus.co.uk/uploads/OmGay_Rights.pdf
“In February 2011, four gay couples and four heterosexual couples, sponsored by the Equal Love campaign, filed a historic joint appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). See here:
“Our appeal argues that Britain’s twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships amount to illegal discrimination, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The bans violate Articles 8, 12 and 14 – respectively the right to privacy and family life, the right to marry and the right to non-discrimination.
“Our Equal Love case is based on different legal arguments from the French and Austrian same-sex marriage appeals, which were rejected by the European Court of Human Rights. We are quietly confident of victory. We expect an ECHR judgement in 2014 or 2015,” said Mr Tatchell.