A Mexican pop singer has announced that he is gay, becoming one of only a few public figures to have come out in a country that is traditionally conservative Catholic.

22-year-old Christian Chavez, a member of the Mexican pop band RBD, revealed his homosexuality following the leaking of photographs that showed him marrying his partner at a ceremony in Canada.

“Certain photographs were released that show a part of me, a part that I was not prepared to speak of in fear of rejection, of criticism,” he said on the band’s website.

“I don’t want to keep on lying and lie to myself because of fear,” he wrote.

“I believe love is the purest feeling that exists and in this career filled with loneliness, having the opportunity to share those moments with someone, that when you look into their eyes, you forget all the negative things, it’s a gift of life, that I cherish more than fame.

“I don’t want to keep on lying and lie to myself because of fear,” he said.

Homosexuality is rarely publicly acknowledged in Mexico and many have doubted that Chavez would have spoken about his sexuality had the photographs not been released.

Mexican gay rights activist, Sergio Villarreal praised Chavez for his decision and hoped that it would persuade future generations to express their sexuality without fear of public rejection.

“This young man represents a new way of seeing things, less prejudiced and more open,” he said.

“Christian Chavez’s decision symbolises this new way of seeing life and raises hope of a more inclusive future with more respect for differences.”

RBD grew out of the teenage soap Rebelde, and are similar to British band S Club 7.

The programme featured a group of six students which rebelled against an elite Mexican boarding school by starting a band.

RBD has achieved commercial success selling over 9.5 million albums worldwide.

Chavez said he hoped his fans would understand his circumstances.

“Although I’m scared and filled with uncertainty I know that I can rely on the support of my fans, their love is bigger than all of this,” he said.

Chavez’s decision to get married will strike a chord with many gay and lesbian Mexicans.

In January the northern Mexican state of Coahuila became the first in the country to approve gay unions. Mexico City passed similar legislation in November.