UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has criticised David Cameron for pushing ahead with the same-sex marriage bill and claims Margaret Thatcher’s “open-mindedness” is responsible for today’s gay tolerance in British society.

When asked in the Telegram Podcast: “Do you think gay marriage is going to disappear as a bill and as an issue?” UKIP leader Nigel Farage replied: “Well the fact that it wasn’t in the Queen’s Speech doesn’t mean it doesn’t still exist, after all, it’s been through the Commons, it’s going to the Lords, so there was no need to mention it in the Queen’s Speech, so as far as I am concerned it is still going though, whether the Lords reject it or not I don’t know I suspect they probably will.

“And then we’ll finish up with a big parliamentary tussle on our hands on a subject, that I can tell you on the last five or six weeks of my touring around Britain – not one single person came up to me and said, ‘This is my major priority,’ he added: “Nobody talked about gay marriage.”

Asked if it was an important issue for gay people, the MEP for the South East of England said: “the civil partnership deal that we’ve got,” means we already have “a fine and fair equitable solution”.

He also said pushing for equal marriage “is dangerous”. Mr Farage then praised former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died last month aged 87, for today’s progressive “atmosphere to gay people in Britain,” saying: “I have to say that Margaret Thatcher of course helped enormously with her open-mindedness.”

When reminded of her support for Section 28, which previously banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools, Mr Farage said: “That was done because she feared some of the very, very extreme left-wing elements within the teaching union – but Margaret Thatcher, her period as our prime minister was one I think of real advancement for gay people in society they were not discriminated against the way they had been by nearly every prime minister before.”

The remaining stages of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will be debated on 20 and 21 May, Leader of the Commons Andrew Lansley told MPs on Thursday.

If the bill is approved on 21 May, it will then pass to the Lords for further scrutiny.