Country singer Dolly Parton has voiced her strong support for same-sex marriage.

Speaking in an interview with Event magazine, the 9-5 singer said she thought gay people should be allowed to marry.

She said: “I think everyone should be with who they love. I don’t want to be controversial or stir up a bunch of trouble but people are going to love who they are going to love.

“I think gay couples should be allowed to marry. They should suffer just like us heterosexuals,” she went on.

The country legend has often dismissed speculation about her own sexuality, despite marrying her husband Carl Dean in 1966.

“I’m not gay. If I was gay, I would have come out of the closet just a-flying,” she said in 2012.

She has always maintained her support for the gay community, however.

Same-sex marriage is currently illegal in Dolly’s home state of Tennessee, and on Friday a US federal appeals panel has reversed an earlier decision to force the state to recognise the marriages of three Tennessee gay couples.