Gay marriage law finalised in England

Gay marriage will become legal in England and Wales after parliament approved changes to legislation.

A small rainbow flag, representing equality for members of the LGBTI community. Picture: Stock.XCHNG

LONDON- Gay marriage will become legal in England and Wales after the lower house of the British parliament approved the final changes to the legislation.

While the law had Prime Minister David Cameron's personal support, it split his ruling Conservative party with many criticising him for being too liberal.

His own MPs had previously twice voted against it.

After a two-hour debate, the House of Commons passed the bill, meaning it now only needs to be approved by Queen Elizabeth, which is merely a formality.

"The title of this bill might be 'Marriage', but its fabric is about freedom and respect," said Culture Secretary Maria Miller, adding that traditionalists should not feel their concept of marriage had been undermined.

"Freedom to marry regardless of sexuality or gender, but also freedom to believe that marriage should be of one man and one woman, and not be marginalised," she said.

Gay couples may already obtain "civil partnerships", conferring the same legal rights as marriage, but campaigners say the distinction gives the impression that society considers gay relationships inferior.