Britain's parliament backs gay marriage in initial vote

LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - British lawmakers on Tuesday backed legalising gay marriage in the first of several votes on the issue after a debate which split Prime Minister David Cameron's ruling Conservative party in two.

The draft law, which proposes legalising same-sex marriage in 2014, was carried by 400 votes to 175 votes. The legislation is several stages away from becoming law, but has already exposed rifts within Cameron's party at a time when he is facing growing talk of a possible leadership challenge.

(Reporting By Andrew Osborn)