UKIP MEP Roger Helmer: I have never said ‘It’s OK to despise gay people’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

UKIP MEP Roger Helmer has accused The Sun of misquoting him in comments about his views on homosexuality.

Earlier today the paper claimed Mr Helmer had said it was okay for people to find homosexuality “distasteful if not viscerally repugnant”.

He was quoted as saying: “You may tell me that you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don’t like it.”

Following widespread coverage of his comments, Mr Helmer issued a statement denouncing the paper.

He said: “I was deeply shocked today by today’s report, and editorial piece, in The Sun. It claimed that I had said ‘It’s fine to despise gay people’, that ‘being gay is a mental health issue’, and that I had suggested that ‘homophobia is OK’. None of these propositions is true, or remotely relates to my views.

“I was phoned (as I was driving, and concentrating, at least in part, on the traffic) by The Sun’s deputy political editor Steve Hawkes, who asked about my views on homosexuality.”

The MEP continued: “In the course of a short conversation, I simply made the point that people were entitled to their personal preferences. It is morally acceptable to prefer heterosexuality over homosexuality, or vice versa. Most of us prefer one or the other. So let’s look at The Sun’s claims:

“’It’s OK to despise gay people’: How the Sun gets from ‘It’s OK to have personal preferences’ to ‘It’s OK to despise gay people’, I’m not sure.

“’Being gay is a mental condition’. In about thirty seconds I was able to identify two blog posts in my extensive blog archive in which I make the point explicitly that homosexuality is not a disease.

“’Homophobia is OK’. As a technical linguistic point, I have questioned the use of the term ‘phobia’ in this context, since it has a specific meaning in psychiatry which does not (it seems to me) apply in this case. But I have also written very clearly (and in the same piece) that prejudice, hostility and violence against homosexuals are wrong, and totally unacceptable.”

He added: “UKIP supporters will recognise the principle at work here: the mainstream media are engaged in a feeding frenzy against UKIP, and are prepared to twist the facts to suit their agenda.”

Last weekend it was revealed that a council candidate for UKIP in Staffordshire had described the arrival of same-sex marriage in England and Wales as a “Sad day for all us straight people”.
Nigel Farage recently made light of the “fruitcakes and loonies” within his party while appearing on Have I Got News For You.

Earlier this month, Douglas Denny, a UKIP candidate in Portsmouth, came under fire for saying that gay sex was ‘disgusting’ and ‘abnormal’.

He was defended by local UKIP chairman Stuart Potter, who said that he had been “wrongly accused of being a homophobe which he is certainly not.”

Councillor David Silvester was expelled from UKIP in February, after claiming that same-sex marriage was responsible for flooding across the UK.