British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said this week that his government is working to secure marriage-like rights for gay and lesbian couples throughout Europe, especially in eastern Europe, the AFP reported.

Brown spoke to gay glossy Attitude about the plan.

“I'm fighting to get all the countries in Europe to recognize civil partnerships carried out in Britain,” he said in the magazine's January issue. “We want countries where that hasn't been the case – especially in eastern Europe – to recognize them.”

Recognition of Britain's law would effectively legalize gay unions in countries that do not offer them for couples willing to travel to the UK to get hitched.

Britain's civil partnership law took effect in 2004. It grants gay and lesbian couples most of the rights and obligations of marriage. Several gay activists, however, have called on lawmakers to approve gay marriage.

Sweden became the fourth European country to legalize gay marriage in the spring. Gay couples may also marry in Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands. Others, including France, Germany, and, beginning January 1, Austria, offer limited unions similar to Britain's civil partnership law.

But anti-gay sentiment in eastern Europe remains stubbornly high. Annual gay pride festivals in many of these countries are routinely marred by violence.

“Of course it will be tough, and will take many years, but that has never ever been a good reason not to fight,” Brown added.