Cliff Richard has come out in support of gay marriage.

The 71-year-old singer, who is one of Britain’s best-known Christians, says he sees no reason why gay people should not have marriage equality.

He told BBC Radio 4: “I don’t see why gay people shouldn’t be married. I have got friends, same-sex couples, who have been together for decades. So for them it’s marriage even though they can’t call it marriage.

“It probably isn’t marriage as such because we recognise it as a man and woman and having babies. [But] that’s ­neither here nor there for me.”

Richard’s own sexual orientation has been the subject of rumour for years and he has declined to discuss his relationship with close companion John McElynn, a former Catholic priest.

In his 2008 autobiography, he wrote: “I am sick to death of the media’s speculation about it. What business is it of anyone else’s what any of us are as individuals? I don’t think my fans would care either way.”

He added: “Many of my friends are gay – let’s face it, homosexuality has been legal for more than 30 years. For me, the commitment is what counts – and I’ll leave the judging to God.”