Mr Bradshaw made the bizarre comment at a crucial moment in the battle for marriage equality, after a petition launched by the homophobic Coalition for Marriage group which insists that the institution should remain traditional – i.e. between a man and a woman – went beyond 400,000 signatures.

Mr Bradshaw, who is in a civil partnership himself, said that David Cameron was only pushing through the plans for marriage equality in order to show potential voters how modern the Conservatives now were. Speaking to the Washington Post, Mr Bradshaw said: “This is more of David Cameron trying to drag the Conservatives kicking and screaming into the modern world.

“This is pure politics on their part. This isn’t a priority for the gay community, which already won equal rights with civil partnerships. We’ve never needed the word ‘marriage’, and all it’s done now is get a bunch of bishops hot under the collar. We’ve been pragmatic, not making the mistake they have in the US, where the gay lobby has banged on about marriage.”

In 2010, 98 per cent of PinkNews.co.uk readers that identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans said they wanted full marriage equality. Mr Bradshaw’s party leader, Ed Miliband that year called for full marriage equality for gay couples in an article for PinkNews.co.uk.

MPs will be given a free vote on the plans in an attempt to stop a revolt by traditionalists in the Tory party who are convinced marriage equality will threaten the very foundation of said institution.

Scotland’s Roman Catholic leader, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, recently caused controversy when the said gay marriage went against “natural law”.

Colin Hart, the campaign director of the Coalition for Marriage said: “[Our] campaign is going from strength to strength and there is no sign of a slowdown in the number people adding their names to the petition. I welcome the comments by Mr Bradshaw, who has hit the nail on the head when he said that the Government is playing ‘pure politics’ with this issue.

“Civil Partnerships already give the same legal rights to same-sex couples that marriage gives to heterosexual couples. This squashes the Government’s major argument for forcing through this change.”

Mr Bradshaw celebrated his civil partnership with his partner of 12 years, in 2006. Speaking on the World at One programme on Radio 4 today, Mr Bradshaw said that he did not think the issue of gay people marrying was “a priority” – though he did think it was “necessary”. He said that issues around homophobia and bullying were currently more important and that many civilly partnered couples already referred to themselves as “married” and that we should simply “reclaim” the term.