STROUD MP Neil Carmichael has declared his support for same sex marriages, saying that he would vote to legalise them if given the opportunity.

The Tory politician, who won his seat at the 2010 general election, said lifting the ban on marriage for gay couples was a step towards creating a more ‘tolerant society’.

National newspaper reports last week suggested that more than 100 backbench Tory MPs could oppose the coalition’s plans to legalise gay marriage.

But Mr Carmichael said he would join with Conservative leader David Cameron in backing legislation which would afford same sex couples equal marriage rights.

Speaking to the SNJ, Mr Carmichael said: "My perspective is that I think we have to be modern and up-front about the issue.

"There are some people who have different views but I think we have got to have a tolerant society.

"We should be open minded enough to recognise that and I will vote to support gay marriage." Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to legalise the move at the Conservative Party conference last October.

It has widely been interpreted as an attempt by Cameron to modernise his party’s image.

There are now concerns, however, that a free vote on the issue could expose divisions in the Tory ranks, with a large number of traditionalist MPs said to be lining up in opposition to the plans.