Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, has told BBC Radio 4 listeners that he would be happy if the song (Sing If You’re) Glad To Be Gay is included in a book for schoolchildren.

The Daily Express reports that the comments have “sparked a major row.”

Speaking on arts programme Front Row yesterday, the cabinet minister was discussing the government’s 21st Century Songbook, a £10m project.

It aims to encourage singing in schools and thirty songs will be picked by pupils and teachers.

Mr Johnson said he would be happy for the 1978 anthem to be included in the songbook.

He also stressed that the inclusion of the song in the book would be a personal choice.

The education department revealed the final selection would be down to composer Howard Goodall.

“(Sing If You’re) Glad To Be Gay” was originally written by outspoken gay musician Tom Robinson for the 1976 Pride march. It reached number 18 in the charts.

Daily Express columnist Ann Widdecombe told the paper, “this type of moral discussion should be left for when children are much older.”

Robinson is a broadcaster who has worked extensively for Radio 4.

He has been the subject of abuse from some gay activists for getting married and having children.

Robinson’s last studio album Having It Both Ways came out in 1996 and had hidden track at the end.

To the tune of Glad To be Gay, he sings about having spent twenty one years fighting for gay liberation, ending with the line “I’m not gonna wear… a ‘straight’ jacket for you”.

Alan Johnson, a candidate for the deputy leader of the Labour party once John Prescott stands down, stood up for gay rights during the recent Cabinet row over the Sexual Orientation Regulations.