BOLTON South East MP Yasmin Qureshi was unable to make the landmark vote allowing same sex couples to marry after her mother was taken ill.

Speaking ahead of the vote on Tuesday, Ms Qureshi had told The Bolton News she would be voting in favour of the legislation which would allow couples, regardless of their sexuality, to marry.

Under current legislation same-sex couples are only allowed to enter into civil partnerships, a legal relationship status.

Heterosexual couples can opt for a religious or a civil ceremony.

Religious organisations will not be forced to conduct same-sex marriages.

Ms Qureshi said: “Unfortunately I was unable to attend the debate and vote in Parliament on same-sex marriage because my mum was taken ill on Monday night and admitted to the Royal Bolton Hospital.

“I was with her on Monday evening and spent most of Tuesday at the hospital. If I had been able to get to Westminster I would have voted for the Bill.”

The gay marriage legislation cleared its hurdle in the Commons on Tuesday night when it had its second reading.

Bolton’s two other MPs were divided in their vote, with Bolton North East MP David Crausby voting against, and Bolton West MP Julie Hilling voting for the legislation.

Mr Crausby said the issue was not one of equality but one of diversity and claimed the legislation was “neither one thing nor another”.

The Prime Minister hailed the vote in favour as a “step forward for our country” after the House of Commons backed the proposals by a big margin of 400 to 175.

In December, Bank Street Unitarian Chapel became one of a handful of churches to be allowed to perform same-sex civil partnership ceremonies and at the time the Minister Stephen Lingwood said he hoped one day the church would be able to perform same-sex marriage.