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Gay marriage bill debated in UK Parliament

The bill would enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, provided that the religious institution consents.

Chris Helgren/Reuters
Born-again Christian activist Carl Hamblin protests outside the Houses of Parliament before a free vote on gay marriage, London, February 5. British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to see his ruling Conservative party split in two on Tuesday over his government's plans to legalise gay marriage, a move critics say is not a priority for the public and unnecessarily divisive.

A gay marriage bill that has divided Britain's Conservative Party but is backed by its leader, Prime Minister David Cameron, is being debated in Parliament in advance of a vote.

The bill would enable same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, provided that the religious institution consents. The Church of England, the country's official faith, is barred from performing such ceremonies.

The bill would also allow couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage.

Dozens of Conservative lawmakers are expected to vote against the proposed bill later Tuesday, but it is expected to pass with support from the vast majority of lawmakers from the left-leaning Labour Party and Liberal Democrats.

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