A vote in the House of Lords to lift the ban on gay and lesbian civil partnerships in Anglican churches has been likened by the Bishop of Bradford to “a Swiss cheese” because it is “full of holes”

The Right Reverend David James was one of 21 peers who opposed an amendment to the Equality Bill which would allow places of religion to host such partnerships but not make them comply – 95 voted for it.

As Bradford’s gay community welcomed the move to recognise religious lesbian and gay couples’ relationships in the eyes of their God, the Bishop criticised the amendment as “not being thought through”.

He said by voting against it, he had not been trying to stop civil partnerships and ceremonies happening in places of worship that had asked for it, such as Quaker meeting rooms and Unitarian churches, but did it “because there was not sufficient legislation” and “fudges the differences between weddings and civil partnerships.”

As an example, he added: “It’s not clear how places of worship would apply.

“Would they apply individually or would the organisation do it as a whole?”

He said the amendment could now put the Church of England “on collision course” with Parliament and that the Government would have to give reassurance that regulations would be put in place to clean up the “messiness of it”.

He said blessings and prayers could already be said in places of worship before or after civil partnerships but the message from the amendment would be to make it ‘a one-stop shop’ but ‘it does not deliver’ because civil partnership are not religious – in church weddings, couples make vows and promises before God.

Rebecca Hewitt, who is manager of Bradford’s Equality Partnership, said: “It would be sad to have to compromise on this.

“It would be nice if the Church of England embraced it wholeheartedly but any advance in recognising gay and lesbian relationships by the church must be welcomed.

“The amendment is a fair move to make because it recognises that some lesbian and gay people are also people of faith and for them it is very important to have their union recognised in a religious space and in the eyes of their God.”

Campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “The decision by the House of Lords to end the ban on religious civil partnerships is another advance for gay equality and religious freedom.