The winner of Miss Universe 2010 has come out in support of gay marriage.

Mexican beauty queen Ximena Navarrete said she had lots of gay friends and there was “no reason we should want to set them aside”.

Last year, Miss California Carrie Prejean lost the Miss USA pageant and her crown after announcing she disagreed with gay marriage.

Although she became a darling of the Christian right, her career was further damaged by revelations she had starred in “solo sex tapes”.

Ms Navarrete, 22, won the Miss Universe crown last month and was asked for her views on gay marriage by Mexican radio station W Radio.

According to a translation by Blabbeando, she said: “Look, I believe that every person in this world has the right to profess the beliefs they have and I am in agreement. We have to respect what each human being decides to do with their lives, you know?

“We have to learn to be respectful because [gay people] are people who are the same as us. There is no difference.”

She added: “The truth is that I am absolutely against discrimination and, well, what can I say. I have many friends who are homosexual and I adore them. And they are equal folk: There is no reason we should want to set them aside, there is no reason why we shouldn’t let them enjoy what they want to enjoy with their partner.”

Ms Navarrete is the second Mexican to win the title of Miss Universe and has pledged to spend her year in office tackling issues such as HIV and breast cancer.