SNP leader Alex Salmond has filmed an ‘It Gets Better’ video to encourage Scottish LGBT young people to be more visible.

The Scottish first minister, who has been criticised by Catholic leaders for his plans to legalise gay marriage, said he wanted gay people to be “proud of who they are”.

Mr Salmond said in the YouTube clip: “I know how much pressure there is to conform, but staying true to yourself and not living a lie is an important part of working out who you are, and it’s an important part of being happy too.

“We want you to feel able to stand up for who you are and what you believe in.

“We want LGBT people in this country to be more visible and proud of who they are.”

The It Gets Better project was started by US gay journalist Dan Savage in an effort to reassure bullied LGBT young people that their lives will improve.

Thousands of people – including Barack Obama and Lady Gaga – have followed suit and made their own videos.

Since the SNP announced a consultation on the issue last month, faith leaders have spoken out strongly against it, claiming that the party will lose the support of 800,000 Catholics.

Announcing the consultation at the beginning of September, deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said ministers believe “that no religious body or its celebrants should be required to carry out same sex marriages or civil partnership ceremonies”.

Stakeholders will be asked whether churches should be given the option of holding the ceremonies if they wish.