A Christian lobby group has been criticised after one of its members was reported to have equated gay marriage with “people wanting to marry their horse.”

The remarks were printed in an Observer interview with Don Horrocks, head of public affairs at the Evangelical Alliance (EA), last weekend surrounding an upcoming legal challenge seeking UK gay marriage rights in the High Court.

He said: “Where does it stop? Soon there will be people wanting to marry their horse.”

“Or perhaps, three or four people will all want to get married.”

Mr Horrocks was quoted in regards to the case of lesbian couple Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger, who legally married in Canada and now want the High Court to recognise their gay marriage in the UK.

Their case will be heard next week.

Simon Barrow, co director of theological think tank and news service, Ekklesia, said: “I suspect that even many who agree with the EA over gay marriages would consider likening them to bestiality quite outrageous.”

Reverend Colin Coward, director of gay Anglican group, Changing Attitude, told the news service, “What it reveals is the extent of the fantasy inhabiting the minds of those who do not wish to affirm lesbian and gay people in the church… It bears no relationship at all to the claims that are being made for proper recognition.”

Keith Porteous-Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “That Don Horrocks portrays this as soon leading to ‘people wanting to marry their horse’ says more about the Evangelical Alliance than it does about the civil rights of these women.”

The Evangelical Alliance, which represents over a million Christians in the UK, is a vocal opponent of civil partnerships.

An EA spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk: “Don spoke at length to a journalist from the Observer during which he outlined the biblical view of marriage, a lifelong union between a man and a woman of commitment and trust.

“He went onto to stress that over recent years the institution of marriage had been devalued, through numerous pieces of legislation awarding similar rights to civil partnerships, civil unions and cohabitating couples. Undoubtedly, these recent developments have devalued an institution that for centuries has been held in the highest esteem throughout the world.

“Don’s controversial remark – which for the record he didn’t actually say – has been portrayed in the media as likening same sex ‘marriage’ to ‘marriage’ with a horse was intended to show how far we have moved from the original blueprint for marriage. No offence was meant by the remark and we apologise for any it may have caused.”