The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has warned Prime Minister David Cameron not to legalise gay marriage.
The second most senior cleric in the Church of England has also told ministers that they should not overrule tradition by allowing same-sex marriage in Britain.
In his interview with the UK-based Daily Telegraph newspaper, Sentamu said that the government should not attempt to change social structures which have existed for centuries: 'I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.'
Santum continues to liken Cameron's government to a dictatorship:
'We've seen dictators do it in different contexts, and I don't want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.'
However, Sentamu did voice his support for civil partnerships saying 'I believe friendships are good for everybody'.
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has strongly condemned Sentamu's comments, saying: 'Archbishop Sentamu is a religious authoritarian who wants to impose his personal opposition to same-sex marriage on the rest of society.
'It is not a Christian value to demand legal discrimination against gay couples and to treat them as inferior, second-class citizens with fewer rights than everyone else.'
Sentamu is currently in Jamaica to celebrate the nation's 50th year of independence.