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Kent MP leaves Twitter over gay marriage stance

15:41 17 December 2012

Gordon Henderson MP

Gordon Henderson MP

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Gordon Henderson argues that no “meaningful debate” can be held on social networks

A Kent MP has left social networking site Twitter as the row over gay marriage proposals continues to rumble on.

Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson said he has taken his page down as he was unable to respond to the number of replies he was getting from constituents.

He also argued he couldn’t have a “meaningful debate” on the matter using 140 characters – the amount of text which a user can write on the micro blogging site.

Mr Henderson, who this week signed a letter against the proposals to extend marriage to same-sex couples, said: “Some of the comments that were posted on Twitter highlight why I am taking my stand.

“They show a level of intolerance, towards anyone who does not support their opinion, that hints at the very prejudice that those tweeters claim is being perpetuated on the gay community.

“A couple of tweets inferred that I would prove myself homophobic unless I support same-sex marriages. Of course, such accusations are designed to stifle debate – which is why I ignore them.”

Despite his defence, a number of Twitter users have slammed the Conservative MP over his stance, with one user calling his views “disgusting”.

The news comes after the backbencher raised his concerns about the proposals announced by culture secretary Maria Miller last week.

Legislation will be brought to the House of Commons next year, although same-sex marriages will be illegal in Church of England buildings.

However, some 58 MPs signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph this week, telling the government it had no mandate to change the definition of marriage.

The letter, which was signed by Mr Henderson, Rehman Chishti, Sir Roger Gale and Julian Brazier, said: “We are sceptical that the proposed protections will prevent the erosion of liberties of religion and conscience.

“The proposed redefinition of marriage is unnecessary, given the legal rights established through civil partnerships.

“We understand some parliamentarians support freedom for same sex couples to marry, but we support a freedom from the state being able to redefine the meaning of marriage.”

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale claimed in the House of Commons last week that 98 per cent of his constituents were against equal marriage, whilst Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti told KoS Media he could not back the proposals due to his religious beliefs.

However, gay right campaigners have told politicians who don’t approve of gay marriage to stand in the way of same-sex couples who want to walk down the alter.

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: “While we fully respect the point of view of those who oppose the government’s plans, our advice to them remains that if you don’t approve of same-sex marriage, then just make sure you don’t get married to someone of the same sex.”

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