Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the British Liberal Democrats, has said he supports a church's right to marry gay and lesbian couples.

In remarks to the UK's the Evening Standard before this weekend's World Pride festival in London, Clegg said he believes religious organizations should be free to decide the issue.

“This is my personal view at the moment, but I think that in exactly the same way that we shouldn't force any church to conduct gay marriage, we shouldn't stop any church that wants to conduct gay marriage,” Clegg said.

“I have a very strong sensation that once the dust settles everyone will look back and think, 'What on Earth was the controversy about? It seems a perfectly natural thing to do.' I don't think it is anything to get hot under the collar about, or aggressive or polemical,” he added.

Clegg's comments were welcomed by Britain's most senior Quaker, Paul Parker.

“We would say all committed relationships are of equal worth,” Parker said. “We have recognized same-sex couples as married since 2009; we want same-sex couples to be free to marry in their Quaker meetings in the same way as opposite-sex couples.”