UKIP MEP Roger Helmer slams The Mail over ‘lies’ about his views on gay ‘cures’

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UKIP MEP Roger Helmer has hit back at the publication of an interview featuring comments about homosexuality, saying it is “packed with deliberate and defamatory lies”.

He said The Mail on Sunday’s Political Editor Simon Walters had performed a “pre-cooked hatchet job”.

The MEP is contesting the Newark parliamentary by-election for UKIP.

Mr Helmer wrote on his blog today: “I was shocked to read your subsequent story, in which you assert that I ‘called for gay cures on the NHS’. This is a deliberate and defamatory lie. I said no such thing.

“You have deliberately and knowingly published a false and defamatory statement a few days ahead of a critical by-election, with the prima facie objective of influencing the outcome of that election.

“I understand that this represents an offence under electoral law.”

The MEP continued: “The question arose because of a minor furore in the media three years ago over therapists and/or religious groups who claimed to be able to reverse an individual’s sexual orientation.

“There was a great deal of strident and aggressive criticism from the gay lobby at the time, both against those offering such ‘treatment’, and against individuals who sought it.

“I felt that this criticism was deeply illiberal, and that if an individual believes that a course of treatment would help him, or might help him, then in a free country he should be entitled to pursue it.”

Mr Helmer added: “Let’s be clear: I have never said that homosexuality is ‘an illness’, or that it can be ‘cured’.

“I have never asserted that homosexuals can be ‘turned’.  I have never advocated ‘gay cures’.

“In particular I would vehemently oppose any move to offer ‘gay cures’ on the NHS.

“No treatment should be offered on the NHS unless it is of proven clinical efficacy and demonstrable cost-effectiveness.

“I am not aware of any proposal to offer ‘gay cures’ on the NHS – this appears to be a figment of your imagination. But if there were any such proposal, I should oppose it robustly.

“Your suggestion that I ‘called for gay cures on the NHS’ is a downright and preposterous lie, and a deliberate attempt to damage my reputation.”

Roger Helmer was quoted yesterday by The Mail of having suggested the NHS should offer “cures” for people who are gay.

He previously said the public should be able to openly dislike gay people.

He also claimed homosexuality is not a lifestyle worthy of respect, and that the media are “obsessed” with sexuality.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage attempted to defend Mr Helmer from accusations of homophobia, claiming that “most” over-70s feel uncomfortable about gays.