The Deputy Prime Minister (Tanaiste) of Ireland, Eamon Gilmore, has told Dublin Pride that the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples the same rights to marry as opposite sex couples.

Mr Gilmore, who is the leader of the Irish Labour Party and serves as Deputy Prime Minister in a Coalition Government said that politicans should no longer dictate who people fall in love with or who they decide to spend their lives with.

“I believe in gay marriage,” he said. “The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation, and, in my opinion, it’s time has come.”

“As leader of Labour, a party for whom the politics of personal freedom is so central, I acknowledge that when it comes to promoting understanding and respect, progress has been made in recent years. However, there are some outstanding matters, and if we as a party are serious about building a new progressive society, these are matters that we will have to resolve.

“I believe that in certain key areas, our laws are out of step with public opinion. I don’t believe for example, that it should ever be the role of the State to pass judgment on whom a person falls in love with, or whom they want to spend their life with.”

Kieran Rose, the chairman of GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) said: “We warmly welcome the strong leadership given by the Tánaiste in declaring that the ‘time has come’ for civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples.

“The Tánaiste is right when he says that ‘our laws our out of step with public opinion’. The huge popular enthusiasm and support for civil partnerships across the country and the polls showing 73% public support demonstrate that Ireland is ready to move to civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples.”

The statements made by Mr Gilmore echo those of his British counterpart Nick Clegg. Mr Clegg, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister recorded a video for the Out4Marriage campaign where he said: “I’ve always been very clear on this: love is the same, straight or gay, so the civil institution should be the same too. All couples should be able to make that commitment to one another, regardless of who they love.

Mr Clegg added: “Let me just say, whether you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or straight: your freedom to love who you choose is a fundamental right in a liberal society – and you will always have our support. That’s why I’m Out4Marriage.”

In 2011, British Prime Minister David Cameron told the Conservative Party conference “It shouldn’t matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a man and another man or a woman and a woman.”

He added: “And to anyone who has reservations, I say this: Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.

“So I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”