Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

London Mayor Boris Johnson has backed same-sex civil marriage while taking part in Saturday’s London Pride parade.

Johnson made the statement after looking at a placard held by LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell that read: “Dave & Sam Cameron can marry, gays can’t. End the ban on gay marriage.”

“Why not?” he said to Tatchell.

“So you are in favour of same-sex marriage?” asked Tatchell. “Yes, I don’t see why not,” replied Johnson. Pressed further, the Mayor added: “Fair enough, the ban should go.”

When Tatchell reminded him that that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government does not support same-sex marriage Mr Johnson replied: “Well, they should.”

“If the Conservatives and Liberals can get together in a national coalition and settle their differences, I don’t see why you can’t have gay marriage,” the Mayor told Tatchell.

“If a gay couple want to get married in a registry office, why shouldn’t they?” he added.

While the UK has recognised same-sex relationships through “civil partnerships” since 2005, some activists, including Tatchell, have demanded that gays and lesbians be given full marriage rights.

“Civil partnerships are a big advance but they not equality. They are second class. In a democratic society, we should all be equal under the law. Having separate laws for gays and heterosexuals is a form of sexual apartheid,” said Tatchell.

Johnson, described by some as the second most influential Tory political leader, is the most senior Conservative to offer his support for same-sex civil marriage in the UK.

Around one million people are estimated to have turned out for the annual Pride celebrations in the English capital.

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