Former US president Bill Clinton has said he is now “basically” in favour of gay marriage.

Speaking at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington DC, Clinton was asked if he supported gay marriage.

According to the The Nation, he replied: “Yeah. I personally support people doing what they want to do. I think it’s wrong for someone to stop someone else from doing that [gay marriage].”

During his term, Clinton opposed gay marriage. He was responsible for the Defence of Marriage Act, which bars access to federal benefits for gay couples and gives federal recognition to heterosexual couples only.

Current president Barack Obama has described the law as “abhorrent” and promised to repeal it in his election campaign. The law was defended in court by the Justice Department in June. The defence invoked incest and child marriage as part of its legal argument, infuriating gay activists.

However, Clinton added he still did not believe gay marriage was “a federal question”.

In May, he told an audience at Toronto’s Convention Centre that his views on the subject were “evolving”.

Clinton is the most high-profile politician to date to change his views on gay marriage.

Five senators – Patrick Leahy, Christopher Dodd, Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer and Tom Harkin – have also come out in favour.