Sir Elton John says he has to get married to his current civil partner, David Furnish, in order to “set an example” for society.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Sir Elton confirmed he planned to marry on the “first day” that the same-sex marriage act for England and Wales comes into force in 2014.

Sir Elton said: “Listen David and I are [a] very high-profile gay couple, probably the most high-profile gay couple in the world. You have to set an example. If you say, listen, guys, this is our rights – can you imagine 20 years ago? We’d have never thought this possible.”

Sir Elton John and David Furnish were among the very first couples in the UK to enter a civil partnership, holding a ceremony at Windsor Guildhall on the day the legislation came into force in December 2005. Same-sex marriage in the England and Wales became law in July this year.

In his CNN interview, Sir Elton thanked David Cameron for legalising equal marriage. The pop icon said: “You can legally get married in church if you want to, thanks to David Cameron the prime minister.”

Faith groups such as the Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism support marriage rights for same-sex couples, although the Catholic Church and Church of England is opposed to equal marriage and will not permit such ceremonies in its venues.

Sir Elton John and David Furnish have been a couple since 1993, and have two sons together. They celebrated the arrival of 2-year-old Zachary in 2010, while their second son, Elijah, was born in January this year.

Sir Elton also said he wouldn’t be cancelling next month’s planned performance in Moscow, despite the country’s anti-gay laws.

“I’m going to go – I’ve been going there since 1979 and I have had great times in Russia,” Sir Elton added: What’s happening there is so awful. But I’ve been asked to go. People from the LGBT community over there have said please come. I don’t want to abandon them. I mean, if you don’t go, you know, you’re saying stick it.”