UKIP posts photo of man burning picture of gay mayoral candidate Brian Paddick in Soho

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A UKIP official posted a photograph of a man burning a picture of openly gay candidate for mayor Brian Paddick in London’s Soho surrounded by UKIP posters and supporters.

The press officer for UKIP tweeted a picture of an image of Mr Paddick being burned in the capital’s historically gay district with the caption ‘@UKIPLondon2012 campaign on fire in Soho’.

Mr Paddick could not immediately be reached for comment this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s mayoral elections.

The press officer told this afternoon that the man burning the photograph of Mr Paddick was himself gay and that the campaigners were burning his image as a Liberal Democrat politician, not as a gay man.

This evening, UKIP now claim that the man photographed was a ‘disillusioned gay Liberal Democrat’ A spokesperson told PoliticsHome: “We don’t approve of the photograph of anyone being burnt. We certainly don’t have any problem with anyone’s sexuality because we’re a libertarian party.”

But earlier, UKIP’s Head of Online Engagement Michael Heaver tweeted PinkNews founder Benjamin Cohen saying over the course of many messages: “Is it really that big a deal? If someone burnt campaign photo of me, would I assume it was coz of my sexuality? More likely just coz they thought I was an idiot owing to my political beliefs/campaign? Erm….the guy burning it is gay. LibDem phobic not homophobic!”

Elections taking place tomorrow include positions for local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland as well as referendums on whether some cities should elect their own mayors. In London, voters will choose a mayor and candidates for the London Assembly.

A former prospective parliamentary candidate for UKIP, Dr Julia Gasper, drew ire over the weekend when suggestions she had made that gays ‘stop complaining about persecution’ and start expressing gratitude to straight people on whom they are reliant for creation surfaced.

Dr Gasper later suggested some readers of who complained about her comments, which included suggestions of a link between homosexuality and paedophilia and an implication that sexual orientation is a choice, be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.