A Tory MP prompted outrage when he railed against the "aggressive homosexual community" today, as the Commons debate on gay marriage became increasingly heated.
Amid increasingly complex political manoeuvres behind the scenes, MPs delivered several impassioned speeches for and against the proposals.
"There are people out there who will be intimidated by this legislation," Tory backbencher Gerald Howarth said.
"There are plenty in the aggressive homosexual community who see this as but a stepping stone to something even further."
His arguments were echoed by fellow Tory MP Edward Leigh, who warned that the "outlandish views of loony left of the 1980s have now become embedded in high places".
He added: "When there is a clash between gay rights and religious freedom, gay rights, I'm afraid, in our case law, comes first.
"What the government is refusing to recognise that they are not legislating this bill to redefine marriage in a vacuum. They are legislating in a culture which has been so coloured by political correctness that mild-mannered people expressing reasonable beliefs in moderate tones are treated like villains."
Labour MP David Lammy said the debate was comparable to British efforts to end the slave trade.
"There was a split in this House for 20 years on whether black human beings were human, or whether they were chattel," he said.
"There were Christians, in this House, that sought to suggest they were chattel, that somehow conscience should prevail for them."
Fellow Labour MP Stephen Doughty mocked the view of some Tory MPs that churches would inevitably be forced to hold gay weddings because of EU anti-discrimination law.
"For the European court of human rights to compel a religious body or its adherents to conduct a religious marriage of a same-sex couple would require a legal miracle much greater than the parting of the Red Sea," he said.
MPs will later vote on amendments which would protect registrars who feel they cannot conduct the ceremonies and teachers who do not believe in same-sex relationships.
There will also be amendments on allowing heterosexual couples to have civil ceremonies instead of marriage.