Recently I appeared in the audience of BBC’s Question Time in my home town of Brighton after a friend asked me to take their place at short notice.

When Marilyn Barmer stood up and nervously asked whether the first gay marriages due to take place in the city in the next 24 hours were a necessary piece of legislation, the temperature in the auditorium plummeted, the warm glow of good-natured yet passionate debate replaced by a glacial hostility.

I have never before experienced such a palpable and visceral sense of contempt and dislike, despite having debated the issue a number of times inside a TV studio or on the radio with LGBT advocates.

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