The new Tory Minister for Equalities, who previously said the state had "no right" to 'redefine' marriage to include same-sex couples, now says she's "fully committed" to LGBT rights.
David Cameron controversially appointed
the Gosport MP to the role of Parliamentary under secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice and the Minister for Equalities at the Department for Education yesterday (May 12), as part of his Cabinet reshuffle following the Conservative party's general election victory last week.
Ms Dinenage voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its Second Reading in the House of Commons in 2013, and was absent for the Bill’s Third Reading.
In 2013, the 43-year-old wrote that the Church states that “marriage is in its nature a union of ‘one man and one woman’, and went on to say “the insitution of marriage is distinctive.”
Of plans to introduce same-sex marriage, she added: “These proposals were not included in any of the three main manifestoes nor did it feature in the Coalition’s Programme for Government. As I have mentioned, under current law same-sex couples can have a civil partnership but not a civil marriage and I believe that there is no legitimate reason to change this.
“Preventing same-sex couples from being allowed to ‘marry’ takes nothing away from their relationship.”
Responding to the controversy over her gay rights record, Ms Dinenage told PinkNews
: “I know that some of your readers will be concerned about my voting record on same-sex marriage, however I want to be clear – I am fully committed to advancing the cause of LGBT equality and support the law on same-sex marriage.
“I’m proud that the UK has just been named the most progressive country in Europe for LGB & T rights for the fifth year running, but as the new Minister for Equalities I know there’s no room for complacency.
“That is why I’m particularly looking forward to taking forward this government’s work on tackling homophobic bullying in schools and implementing our manifesto commitment to introducing a new law that will build on the posthumous pardon for Alan Turing by erasing the historic convictions of those who would be completely innocent of any crime today.
“I’ll be meeting with LGBT organisations such as Stonewall as soon as possible to discuss this Government’s priorities for this parliament.”
Ms Dinenage's comments echo those made by current Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who also voted against equal marriage before backtracking following her ministerial appointment last year, saying that she would “probably” vote in favour of same-sex marriage if given the opportunity again.
Mr Cameron has also appointed Maldon MP John Whittingdale – who has consistently voted against gay rights legislation including equal marriage over the last 20 years – to the role of Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
The Conservatives won 331 seats at last week’s general election, giving the party an absolute majority of 5 seats. You can check out the party’s LGBT election manifesto here
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