The chief of human rights at the United Nations has praised Iceland for allowing gay couples to marry.

The country’s parliament unanimously approved a same-sex marriage law last month, which is to come into effect this weekend.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, visited the country this month.

Speaking in Reykjavik, she commendedIceland for the “significant progress it has achieved through recent legislation removing legal impediments to same-sex marriages”.

As well as becoming the seventh European country to legalise gay marriage, Iceland is the first to have an out gay head of government.

Johanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister last April, when her Social Democrats formed a left-wing coalition with the Left-Green Movement.

Iceland repealed laws banning homosexuality in the 1940s. In 2006, it widened provisions to give gay couples all the reproductive and parenting rights open to straight couples.

The country’s church has not yet decided whether it will perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples, as the law gives it the option of doing so.