UK’s historic day for equality

Same-sex marriage has been approved in England and Wales by a big majority in a key vote in Parliament. The Commons voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, by 400 to 175, a majority of 225. But this is just the first of several votes needed for the bill to pass.

Member of Parliament Mike Freer, who is in a civil partnership, spoke passionately for equality in the debate. His fundamental argument was based on the fact that if equality exists, it must exist on all levels.

He told me outside the parliament that although he was privileged to be elected MP, his proudest day was when he started his civil partnership. Watch the interview here.

Reverend David Braid came all the way from Liverpool to call gay people paedophiles and accuse gay teachers of teaching their students to “become” gay. He said his wife had to cancel an operation because she was told she may get blood transfusion from homosexuals. He said he wanted to help gay people because they carried dangerous diseases. He was very confused about everything.

But the argument put forward by equality campaigners revolved around humans being treated as humans.

“Those who are oppose same sex marriage are basically saying that they support discrimination, and that gay couples are unworthy. That’s profoundly insulting. In a democratic society everyone should be equal before the law,” high-profile gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told me.

Watch campaigners who spoke to euronews here.

Stonewall is a major organisation that defends gay and lesbian rights. Their spokesman Andy Wasley told me Home Office figures show more than 4,000 hate crimes a year against gay people in the UK. This is appalling considering this country is one of the most tolerant in the world.

He also criticised the language used by some of the parliamentarians during the debate. Watch the interview here.

The bill is passed and it is truly a historic day for equality. But some important questions remain: Why is there a debate on this subject in the first place? Why sexuality of people should be ground for discrimination against them? This is the 21st century and we are at the heart of the so-called “civilised” world, but still we categorise people as heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual and so on and so forth. To me, this division is as absurd as categorising people with their skin colour – a totally false argument. We are only people, nothing else and nothing more.

Caroline Lucas Green Party MP concluded:

“There’s still a long way to go. Changing people’s values and culture takes a long time. Sometimes you have to change the laws first if you can, and that’s what we are doing now. And I think, you know, in a few years time people will look back to today and think what was all the fuss about.”

Follow euronews London correspondent Ali May’s updates on Twitter: https://twitter.com/may_euronews

EuroNews | 6th February 2013

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