Dolly Parton has said she believes gay rights are “human rights”, rather than being a political issue.

The singer told The Times: “I’m not a poster child for gay rights by any means.

“But I have so many gay and lesbian friends and they’re just so pure and so true. That’s not politics to me. That’s human rights.”

But she added: “Look at the poor Dixie Chicks. They were just trying to make a personal statement and it ruined them. So I stay away from that.”

The Dixie Chicks received hate mail and lost fans when singer Natalie Maines said in 2003 that the band were “ashamed” that George W Bush came from Texas.

Parton spoke last year about her gay fans. She told CNN’s Joy Behar: “I think its because they know I’m different too and it took me a long time be accepted. And I think that they just kind of relate to that.”

When asked if she supported gay marriage, the country legend said: “I always say, ‘Sure, why can’t they get married? They should suffer like the rest of us do.”