The head of the Church of Ireland, the Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clark, has suggested that gay people don’t want to marry, and that civil partnerships are sufficient.

Saying same-sex couples “don’t want gay marriage”, Clarke spoke to the Irish News in an interview published today in conjunction with the beginning of the Church of Ireland’s General Synod.

Giving an example of a gay couple he knows in England, Clarke attempted to suggest that most gay people do not want to be able to marry, and that civil partnerships are sufficient.

“They have been together for 40 years and are in civil partnership but don’t like the nomenclature of marriage” he said.

“I can understand that. They would have said when I was with Linda, ‘You two are married, we are not married’ – they can understand the difference between equality and equivalence”.

Changing Attitude Ireland, the Church of Ireland’s pro-gay group, in 2012 welcomed the appointment of Reverend Clarke as the new primate of All-Ireland.