The Methodist Church has voted to allow same-sex marriage in a move that has been hailed as a "momentous step on the road to justice and inclusion".

Following debates on the topic at the Methodist Conference on Wednesday, 29 out of the 30 Methodist Synods in Britain confirmed they were in support of provisional resolutions to allow the practice.

The move makes it the largest Christian denomination to approve same-sex marriages.

The current membership of the Methodist Church is around 164,000, across more than 4,000 churches.

Same-sex marriage is not allowed in the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church.

However, it is welcomed in the Scottish Episcopal Church and United Reformed Church.

Methodist Church officials hope the first same-sex weddings in Methodist chapels will take place in the autumn.

The vote in favour of the resolution was passed by the Conference with 254 votes in favour versus 46 against.

During proceedings, the Reverend Dr Jonathan Hustler acknowledged the "depth of feeling, pain and anxiety that there is".

On the topic of same-sex cohabitation it was noted that "there was a general view that the church cannot close its eyes to what is happening in society".

Freedom of conscience clauses mean ministers will not be forced to conduct such weddings if they oppose the move.

Campaign group Dignity & Worth, which champions the LGBTQ+ community in the Methodist Church, said that "the Methodist Conference has taken a momentous step on the road to justice and inclusion".