The comedian, 52, told the Daily Telegraph that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, a move supported by David Cameron but opposed by religious groups including the Catholic Church, was a measure of “proper equality”.
He likened the furore over the legalisation to that faced by women wanting the vote 100 years ago, saying once it was accepted people’s fears would disappear.
“When women were given the vote, some people talked about society crumbling – and it didn’t,” he told the paper. “Gay marriage is nothing to worry about. It is about being civilised.”
The stand-up, actor and pantomime star, who has a long-term partner, said that the Prime Minister had been “brave” to support legislation legalising same-sex marriages against opposition from his own backbenchers. But he told the paper he was disappointed it had not been mentioned in the Queen’s Speech and urged Mr Cameron to “get on with it”.
The Prime Minister is to offer Conservative MPs a free vote on the Government’s plans to legalise gay marriage amid growing discontent in his ranks.
Critics questioned the Prime Minister’s commitment to the reform after it emerged that he will not whip his party to support the move in the division lobbies.
This week a Conservative Cabinet minister declared his opposition to same-sex marriage in the most high-level challenge to Mr Cameron so far on the issue. Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson made clear his hostility to the change in a letter to a constituent. Defence minister Gerald Howarth is also opposed to same-sex marriage.
Tory critics of the plan see it, like House of Lords reform, as a Liberal Democrat policy that is a distraction from the bigger challenges facing the Government. But Desmond Swayne, Mr Cameron’s parliamentary private secretary, has recorded a video message for the cross-party Out4Marriage campaign backing the plans.
Home Secretary Theresa May has also joined the Out4Marriage campaign.