PinkNews Exclusive. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has praised the Archbishop of Canterbury for speaking out against homophobia and for his “honesty” over his position on same-sex marriage.

Justin Welby has become the first ever primate of the Anglican Church to conduct an interview with a gay media publication.

When asked if he had a ‘message’ for Britain’s LGBT community, Archbishop Welby told PinkNews.co.uk: “As you know I have said, and got a fair amount of flak for it within parts of the Church, we have to accept, and quite rightly, that the same-sex marriage act is law, and that it’s right and proper, it’s the law of the land, and that’s great.

“What’s my message to the gay community?” the Archbishop said before pausing for several seconds.

“We are struggling with the issues across the Church globally. It’s complicated with ramifications that are very difficult to deal with in many parts of the world.”

In response, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg praised the Archbishop’s comments.

Mr Clegg told PinkNews.co.uk: “This is a welcome move by the Archbishop of Canterbury and I have great respect for his honesty. Justin Welby is right to denounce homophobia, be it here in the UK, or in other parts of the world.

He added: “Love is equal in the eyes of British law, but that right was hard won. We have to fight even harder for universal human rights, including LGBT freedoms, globally.”

Following his interview with PinkNews Lambeth Palace insisted that the Archbishop’s comments did not reflect a change in position.

A spokesman for Lambeth palace said: “The Archbishop has said numerous times that he accepts the right of Parliament to change the law and that the Church should continue to demonstrate the love of Christ for every person.

“The Archbishop voted against the Same-Sex Marriage Act in the House of Lords last year.”

Earlier this week, Archbishop Welby stressed the importance of tackling homophobic bullying as he met with students at a Church of England school in south London.

He said: “Bullying someone is always unacceptable and totally wrong”.

In March, Archbishop Welby signalled the end of Church lobbying against the same-sex marriage act for England and Wales, but stressed that the Church’s opposition to the principle of equal marriage had not changed and that it would not be marrying same-sex couples.