Lord Joffe has compared the opponents of the Assisted Dying Bill to those who argued against decriminalising homosexuality.

The 82-year-old South African former human rights lawyer told The Independent: “Most of those who oppose assisted dying opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality, they opposed inter-faith marriage and abortions, all of these.

“Opponents [to assisted dying] don’t seem to recognise we are developing into a more and more compassionate and caring society.

“This doesn’t mean they themselves are not caring and compassionate people, it means they have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to the compassionate development of our law.”

He added: “The bill will get through – the only question is when. Assisted dying is spreading throughout the world. More and more communities are passing or considering legislation to allow assisted dying, subject to strict safeguards. But I’m certain it will get through in this country… one is comforted by the fact that it took William Wilberforce about 17 attempts to get slavery abolished.”

Some have questioned the merit of linking the Assisted Dying Bill with other social issues.

The Assisted Dying Bill would allow adults of sound mind, with six months to live, the right to end their life at a time of their choosing.

It passed second reading in the Lords last Friday.

Currently, the 1961 Suicide Act makes it an offence to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt in England and Wales. Anyone doing so could face up to 14 years in prison.

Earlier this month, Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, who is known for his staunch opposition to equal marriage, expressed his support for the bill.

Critics warn that the bill creates the financial incentive for “vultures” to swarm over the sick and dying.