A Hindu temple in Sussex has been granted a marriage license, and has said that gay couples are welcome to marry there, stating a need to “respect everyone”.

The Apple Tree Centre in Ifield, West Sussex, home to the Gurjar Hindu Union, is now able to host civil ceremonies, and is the first non-Christian venue in Sussex to be granted a marriage license.

Trustee of the Apple Tree, Bharat Lukka, said:¬†“Times have changed and we need to change with it. We need to respect everyone.

“Hindus are generally laid back about religion and everyone in our community has ben supportive of the idea. We are quite lucky to have a young community in Crawley so they are quite relaxed about issues and understanding.

“We hold Indian weddings there now but we have wanted to open it up to all religions and sections of the community for some time.

“Now anyone can come along to the centre to have their wedding. Perhaps people might assume that the centre is just for Hindus and we want people to know it is open to everyone, regardless of race, religion or sexuality.

“This is one way of us integrating with the community.”

This change means that couples can legally register to marry, exchange religious vows and hold their reception all at the same venue, reports ThisIsSussex.

Mr Lukka talked of the temple’s facilities, saying there were 250 car parking spaces and a large reception room.

He also said: “You can get married in front of Lord Rama [who is pictured in the temple]. Lord Rama is believed to be the seventh incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu and is considered to be, among other things, the ideal husband.”

Yesterday, on giving evidence to the Public Bills Committee scrutinising the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill, the Dean of St Albans said that it would be “more Christian” to allow individual Church of England parishes to choose whether they wanted to perform equal marriages.