A senior cleric has said that gays should be able to get married in church.

The Very Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, told the Scotsman he believed civil partnerships were not equal to marriage and that gay couples should be able to walk down the aisle together.

Holdsworth, who is openly gay, said: “Civil partnerships contain many of the same rights and privileges as marriage, but they are not the same. You can’t celebrate a civil partnership in a church and if I tried to I’d be breaking the law.

“I want every gay couple to be able to walk down the street holding hands if they wish to do so.

“I also want every gay couple to be able to walk down the aisle holding hands if they want to too.

“I want to alert MSPs to this, so parliament can bring in this relatively small, but very important, change.”

He admitted he had not always been in favour of gay marriage but had changed his mind when a male couple asked him to perform a blessing.

He also said the words of the Archbishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali were hurtful. Nazir-Ali said earlier this month that gays should “repent and be changed”.

Holdsworth said: “I wish he wasn’t making the comments he makes and the only thing I can do is wish him a blessing of peace.”

On the possibility of gay clergy being able to marry, he said: “I don’t know how long it will take before clergy can have a same-sex marriage ceremony that is acknowledged by the whole church, but I do believe it is far more likely to happen in Scotland rather than England.

“I think in some ways Scotland is a more grown-up society than England.”