A HAMPSHIRE MP who voted against same-sex marriage has been appointed as Parliament's new equality chief.

MP for Romsey and Southampton North, Caroline Nokes, was elected as the unopposed chair of the Women and Equalities Committee this week.

Now the MP has defended her new role after being one of 170 politicians to vote against a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Ms Nokes said: "I hope people judge me on the performance of the Committee I am soon to chair and not on a single vote that was the best part of seven years ago.

"Since then I have voted to equalise marriage rights in Northern Ireland."

Ms Nokes added: "This is an exciting opportunity in a new Parliament.

"I am very much looking forward to working with the new Committee as soon as it is properly constituted to further the equalities agenda."

Chairman of Romsey and Southampton North Conservative Association, Nick Adams-King, said: "My experience of Caroline is she has been unfailing supportive to the LGBTQ+ community in her constituency.

"I cannot fault her in her advocacy of equality and LGBTQ+ rights and at the time of that vote in 2013 there was a massive campaign by some of the evangelical churches to MPs and their post bags were full of letters saying 'you must vote against the bill'.

"I know Caroline voted against it and the reaction to her decision was negative as she realised straight away she had not represented the majority opinion around her."

He added: "Regardless of that, I would measure Caroline by her actions and her actions have always been supportive of the LGBTQ+ community."

Ms Nokes voted to permit same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland on July 9 last year.

This comes after Ms Nokes stormed to victory in the General Election on December 16.

Ms Nokes has been the MP for Romsey and Southampton North since 2010 after gaining the seat from the Liberal Democrats, won the seat for the fourth time after bagging 27,862 votes.

In 2017, Ms Nokes secured 28,668 votes, which is approximately three percent down on the last election.