UK Politics

Nicky Morgan: I've changed mind and support gay marriage

Nicky Morgan Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nicky Morgan was promoted to the cabinet in David Cameron's July reshuffle

Equalities minister Nicky Morgan says she has changed her mind and "probably would" vote in favour of same-sex marriage if the vote was held now.

Mrs Morgan, who also serves as education secretary, was one of 161 MPs to oppose the legalisation of same-sex marriage in May 2013.

She told the BBC she welcomed "anybody who enters into a commitment".

And she added that a major influence in her vote had been constituents asking by "10-to-1" for her to oppose it.

Mrs Morgan said she was currently working with other government ministers on how civil partnerships could be converted into same-sex marriages from December.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that although she could understand why people thought it noteworthy that she had "voted a particular way and now she is equalities minister", she had voted largely on behalf of her constituents.

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Media captionNicky Morgan: Young people can use language thoughtlessly or deliberately

"We are all, as Members of Parliament, here to represent, to listen, to hear, to change minds but I have a lot of constituents who asked me to vote in a particular way and I listened to them and it was an issue of conscience too.

"But I have certainly learned an awful lot doing this job."

In an interview with the magazine Pink News, Mrs Morgan said of her previous voting position: "I take it for some people it's not difficult at all. It was completely obvious, just sort of overdue for many people. But I think that, if we as a country want to talk about tolerance, and respect, I think we all have to understand that there are some things that are obvious for some people, and less so, or need more explanation, for others."

She said she "probably would" vote differently if the vote was now but "at the end of the day as a Member of Parliament I'm also here to represent my constituents and as I've said I had requests of 10-to-1 asking me to vote against it. I wish people had come forward earlier to say that 'actually we'd like you to support it'."

Ms Morgan was heckled when she defended her change of views at the Pink News awards at the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday.

As she urged the audience to "judge me on my record", one critic repeatedly shouted "you voted against it" at the reception in Commons Speaker John Bercow's official residence.

Earlier, she told the BBC that she welcomed the fact that 1,400 same-sex couples had married under the new law.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Peter McGraith and David Cabreza were married at Islington town hall as the law came into force

She was speaking as she unveiled plans for the government to spend £2m tackling homophobic bullying in schools.

Mrs Morgan said that "young people can sometimes use language either thoughtlessly or deliberately, particularly around the use of the word 'gay'.

"For a young person who is perhaps thinking about coming out or is unsure of their sexuality - being called names is something that will mean that they won't want to go to school."

She said that "in some cases of course it can lead to other problems, not only not getting your qualifications - but things like mental health problems as well".

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