An opinion poll commissioned by The Times to mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots has revealed that a majority want gay marriage in the UK.

The riots, which began at a gay bar in New York in June 1969, are regarded as the catalyst for the modern gay rights movement.

The Times reported that Populus carried out the poll, which was published yesterday.

41% of respondents said they would accept their child coming out as gay – just 9% said they would reject a gay or lesbian child. 45% said they would be upset but would try to come to terms with it.

61% said they support marriage for gay couples – at present gay people may only enter into a civil partnership.

49% back equal adoption rights and 68% support “full equal rights” for gay men and lesbians.

51% said that gay relationships should be taught in schools as being of equal value to heterosexual relationships.

4% of men in the anonymous poll said they had had a sexual encounter with another man.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay equality organisation Stonewall, told The Times he heartened by the results of the poll, especially the high number of respondents who want kids to be taught that gay and straight relationships are equal.

“That was the most pleasant surprise from this poll,” he said.

“In this matter it is parents who are the ones who matter and clearly they are much more realistic about the wider world than veteran opponents of equality.

“Section 28 was always demeaning and stigmatising.

“Millions of sensible people clearly think so, too. I suppose parents know that since 6 per cent of the population is gay, then there is a one-in-15 chance one of their children will be too.”