The chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s has said she is ‘incensed’ by arguments that marriage should be reserved for straight couples as they ‘automatically’ provide the best environment for bringing up a child.

Anne Marie Carrie, writing for the Huffington Post on Father’s Day, said the qualities required of a good parent were to be found in gay, bisexual transgender and straight people, whether they are in relationships or not.

She wrote: “I have become increasingly incensed by those who hold the opinion that a marriage between a man and woman automatically makes for the optimal situation in which to bring up children and parent.

“As the chief executive of the UK’s largest children’s charity and having worked with vulnerable children for the last thirty years it is clear to me that it is not the marital status of parents or even their relationship status that distinguishes between good and bad parenting.”

The opinion that straight married couples provide the best environment for children, which is often voiced by the Catholic Church when it speaks about its opposition to altering the institution of marriage, was misguided because good parenting is “about providing emotional security and developing a positive approach to parenting by being a good role model, encouraging good communication, and challenging bad behaviour”, she wrote, not sexual orientation or relationship status.

Ms Carrie said she supported the government’s plans to legalise marriage for gay couples in civil ceremonies not because she thought marriage was “critical to bringing up children”, doubting that gay parents would change their behaviour as a result of equality.

Instead, she wrote: “My support of an equalisation comes from a deeply held belief that this proposal removes yet another distinction between lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families and straight families.

“Anything that helps reduce stigma and make families and the children in them feel more accepted can only be a good thing.”