15/03/2012 11:10 GMT | Updated 31/01/2013 16:58 GMT

Gay Marriage: Denying Civil Partnerships To Straight Couples 'Perverse', Says Tory

Heterosexual couples should be allowed to have civil partnerships now that the government plans to introduce gay marriage, a Tory MP has said.

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday afternoon, Christopher Chope said it was "perverse and bizarre" that the coalition wants to allow gay people to marry but was not planning to let straight people have civil partnerships.

Chope said that when Labour passed the civil partnership legislation it denied heterosexual couples the right to have civil partnerships as they were the "exclusive doman for same-sex couples" who could not marry.

As they would soon be able to marry he said this decision should be undone. "There needs to be some equality and consistency," he insisted.

Chope has historically voted against gay rights in the Commons. He opposed civil partnerships, the equalisation of the age of consent, and the repeal of the Section 28 rule that forbade the promotion of homosexuality.

John Bercow recalled serving on a committee which examined the civil partnership legislation.

The Speaker, a strong supporter of gay rights, told the Commons that the experience of serving on that committee with Chope was "etched upon my mind" as an "immensely stimulating, and some may say, a protracted, experience."

In 2010 Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle lost their bid to have a civil partnership. They said at the time they did not want to get married as they disagreed with its "patriarchal traditions".

In the consultation document on gay marriage published on Thursday the Home Office said it was not planning to open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples as it had been "unable to identify a need for this".

However the government says it "appreciates that there are a number of views on this issue" and has asked for submissions on the subject.